One week ago today, everyone was feeling really thankful. I know, because that is what everyone’s Facebook status said as a caption for pictures of turkey and mashed potatoes. #thankful
Despite the overwhelming amount of thankfulness displayed on the internet, I felt like many posts I read were more about the idea of being thankful than about truly recognizing and thanking the people around us or giving praise and glory to God for all he has done.
As I pondered the shallow nature of our appreciation, I read Paul’s instructions in 1 Thessalonians about how to give thanks. His suggestions seem to me to be less about being thankful but rather giving thanks. He wants his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica to acknowledge those who work hard and who have influenced their life through care and admonishment.
“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
For our Urbana community, the time for thankfulness is both coming and already here. Even now, our brothers and sisters are hard at work preparing for Urbana; they are preparing to pray for us, preparing to teach us, preparing to feed and house us. Let’s not forget to acknowledge their hard work now, lifting them up in prayer and thanking God for providing people willing to serve us. And let's give thanks in St. Louis maybe by bringing a stack of thank you notes to write for the staff who will lead our morning Bible studies, sharing smiles and patience with the workers who will serve us lunch and dinner, or saving extra spending money to use on our hotel tip. Let’s give thanks together for the people God has put in our lives to care for us!