1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” For many of us, tomorrow will be a day we focus on giving thanks. But, how can we give thanks in all things? How can we give thanks on all days? How can we lead others to give thanks—even when the situation seems difficult or you find yourself in despair?
Each Thanksgiving season I return to a chapel service I attended five years ago at Oklahoma Baptist University. The speaker, Dr. Calvin Miller, is one of my favorite theologians and his writing continues to cause me to think deeply and act differently. His message focused on three words, “Thank you, God” or as he said when he’s in a hurry, “TYG.”
As an octogenarian, Miller challenged college students that his life was filled with TYG moments. He said, “I come back to it again and again and again: a deep, thankful spirit. You know what? I love God. It’s hard for me to contemplate Him without saying, ‘TYG! Thank you, God, for all you have done in my life.'” He reminded students how he arrived at OBU, a young man who had no means to pay for the $800 tuition fee. His church graciously provided the funds, yet a split in the church the following year left him without finances to keep going to school. He arrived on campus, hoping to convince the treasurer to let him attend. The treasurer informed Miller that his tuition had been provided anonymously. He would not discover the donor until 20 years later at his mother’s funeral. Miller was grateful to the man who had provided, but also grateful for the man’s response: “I’m so glad I did. You were worth every penny.”
As he urged students to approach Thanksgiving with gratitude and to thank their families for their investment. He said, “My affection lies with a matriarch who taught me that humanity is the porch of divinity.” Less than one year after Miller’s chapel message, he met the Divine face-to-face. I have a feeling that one of the first things he said was, “TYG—Thank you, God.”
How will you give thanks this week? We can give thanks in all things—even the difficult things, because God is worthy of our thanks. Even when you find it difficult to be thankful, start keeping a thanksgiving journal. Even on your darkest day, ask the Lord to give you a grateful heart and to remember His goodness and faithfulness. Learn to give thanks by looking at Scripture and focusing on verses that include the words “thanks” or “thankful.” Write them down and hide them in your heart. Create a culture of thanksgiving among those you lead. Ask them to begin their day with a spirit of thankfulness. Ask them to share how God has shown Himself faithful. Include a time of thanksgiving in your prayer time. In fact, maybe you just need to have a prayer time that only includes thanksgiving.
Today, I’m thankful for you. I can say, “TYG” for so many things, but it is a privilege to serve you and equip you for God’s calling on your life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you, God.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.