Giving Thanks, No Matter What
Colossians 1:11-14 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (ESV).
Just a few short weeks from now, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s an excellent time to take stock of the past year, and think through all the ways our gracious Father has blessed us.
It’s also a good time to remember that for us as Christians, “giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:12), is even one of the key elements of a God-pleasing life (cf. Col. 1:10). Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but as a regular practice in our lives.
And in this passage from Colossians, the Apostle Paul gives some reasons for Christians to give thanks, no matter what else we might be experiencing at the time. Whether our life circumstances might be good or bad, Paul lists some spiritual blessings that all Christians have experienced, and therefore always have reason to thank God at least for these things: God qualified us for an eternal inheritance; God rescued us from the powers of darkness; God transferred us into the Kingdom of His Son; God redeemed us in His Son (cf. Col. 1:12-14).
Each of these blessings are independent of our life circumstances. Each of them have eternal ramifications. I encourage you to take some time, think on what each of these involve, and rejoice and give thanks for how God has graciously granted us these things.
Many of us recognize John Newton (1725-1807) as the author of the great hymn, Amazing Grace. You may not recall that he was a pastor as well. He once gave a great illustration of how knowledge of our eternal blessings (like our eternal inheritance and reward) can help us to remain thankful, even as we face hard times here and now.
Newton said, “Suppose a man was going to New York to take possession of a large estate, and his [carriage] should break down a mile before he got to the city, which obliged him to walk the rest of the way; what a fool we should think him, if we saw him ringing his hands, and blubbering out all the remaining mile, "My [carriage] is broken! My [carriage] is broken!"(Richard Cecil, Memoirs of the Rev. John Newton, p. 108).
As believers, we have much more than a “large estate” before us. The apostle Peter says of our inheritance, that it “is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4 ESV). This is ours. God has already “qualified [us] to share in [it]” (Col. 1:12). Even if our “carriage” might break, we can still give thanks to our gracious God for this future inheritance, as well as the other spiritual blessings Paul has laid out for us here in Colossians 1:12-14.