It’s easy to thank God in the good times. When the sky is bright blue, and family dynamics are easy and smooth, when best friends abound, and life is just that perfect balance of busy-but-not-too-busy, who wouldn’t want to thank God for His gifts (James 1:17)? Sometimes, this is what our life is like, and these are the perfect times to be so thankful! What’s interesting in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 though, is that Paul doesn’t qualify our thankfulness to apply only to the “good” circumstances; he literally says “be thankful in ALL circumstances.” Without knowing who it was writing that verse, it might be easy to discard- what does this guy know of suffering? Surely he doesn’t mean be thankful in the hard times too? In context though, we know this is Paul writing, and we know he suffered deep hardships and even deep sadness. This is the same man who wrote Philippians 4:10-13!
THANKFULNESS: A grateful heart that comes from trusting God
MEMORY VERSE: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
This Week’s Finish Line: We can be thankful even through hard times!
This week we looked at the writings of the prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations chapter 3. Jeremiah knew hardships most of us can only imagine. He was one of God’s prophets during the final reign of the kings of Judah in the Old Testament. As one of “God’s spokesmen,” he had to watch God’s people turn fully away from God, and then watch God bring destruction upon them. Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet,” because he was so saddened by what he saw! Not only was he sad, but he was also imprisoned, lonely, rejected, ignored, and he lost everything. Even through all of his hardships, Jeremiah still was thankful! Check out Lamentations 3:14-26 to read his response.
- Read through Lamentations 3:14-18. What were Jeremiah’s hardships?
- What did Jeremiah remember in the midst of this list? (Lamentations 3:21)
- What characteristics of God did Jeremiah remind himself of? (Lamentations 3:22-26)
- Does God ever change? What about in hard times?
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TEACHER: Scripture on Thankfulness
At dinner one night this week, find other places in the Bible where thankfulness is encouraged. You can even google “Bible verses on thankfulness” for help! Start with the psalms: 100, 103, 106, 107, 118. If your family has already memorized the memory verse together this month (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), pick one verse from one of those psalms and write it somewhere for everyone to practice memorizing as well.
FRIEND: Remember God’s Faithfulness
While driving in the car together sometime this week, brainstorm some hard times your family has gone through. What did each of you learn from those times? What did you learn about God through those times? Has He still been faithful?
COUNSELOR: High/Low Thankfulness
During bedtime this week, talk through your highs/lows from the day. What are things to be thankful for in your high and in your low today? Read Lamentations 3:22-26 together, and thank God for who He is and that He never changes.
COACH: Prayerful, Joyful, Thankful
Continue last week’s practice inspired by this month’s memory verse (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and pick one morning this week for each person in the family to start the day saying something they are thankful for, then pray together for God to help you each see more things to be thankful for throughout the day. Keep reminding each other to practice the discipline of thankfulness!
Thank God for staying the same in both good & hard times. Ask Him to show you all that there is to be thankful for even when He walks with you through difficult times. Thank Him for the people in your life who point you to truth when you yourself cannot see it.
Next week we will continue talking about thankfulness, and how we can be thankful for what God has done! We will be reading the stories in Luke 17:11-19.
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