Now that the presidential elections are over, it seems time has flown by. Suddenly, we are in the midst of the holiday season. But instead of our usual collective spirit of thanksgiving and unbridled holiday cheer, our nation is suffering from what I call Post Election Stress Disorder (PESD). The symptoms of PESD are varied. You could feel jubilation, hope, and anticipation or anger, fear, and widespread frustration. Where is our spirit of holiday cheer? How can we express true thanksgiving in such a divided and uncertain national climate?
Living in a world of discord and uncertainty is not new. It has deep roots even in ancient times. The Apostle Paul wrote his earliest letters to the Thessalonians because he was forced to leave the region due to persecution. Clearly the government administration in Paul's day must have been protested and widely disliked.
Yet, Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 gives us a series of principles to live by, even under stressful national conditions. He gives us the formula not just for a day of thanksgiving; but for a lifetime of thanksliving. Paul provides instructions on how to live life in an attitude of gratitude. Through our faith in Jesus Christ we can experience thankful living despite dire circumstances.
1. Honor our leaders (vs. 12).
2. Show them respect, love, and live at peace (vs 13).
3. Warn the unruly, Encourage the timid, Take care of the weak, and Be patient with everyone (vs. 14).
4. Don't take revenge. Instead do good things for yourself and others (vs.15).
5. Be joyful and pray through the problems (vss. 16-17).
6. Give thanks IN everything not FOR everything (vs 18).
This is where Paul transcends politics, problems, and people and takes us on a path to genuine praise. In his final principle, Paul states, “In everything give thanks.” We may not be thankful for all things; but we can be thankful in all things! No matter our problem, trials, and tragedies, we can give God praise for His glory, power, goodness, and mercy. This is thanksliving! Let's determine to live in a spirit of thankfulness this holiday season that will also be our principles of praise for all of our days.