When we grumble we give power to the circumstance. When we give thanks, we receive power over the circumstance. Israel grumbled in the wilderness because of the hardship of their circumstances. As a result they never broke through the wilderness to enter the Promised Land. Similarly we easily resort to grumbling over all the things wrong in our lives, not realizing that we are inadvertently empowering those circumstances to continue to overwhelm us. But there is another way.
When we give thanks, we receive power over the circumstance. Colossians 1:12 prays for strength with all power by giving thanks to the Father. The background of Col 1:11–14 is the exodus with its reference to inheritance, deliverance and redemption. Yet if the people of God are not to perish in the wilderness like Israel did, then they must give thanks to the Father. Similarly God leads us through the wilderness and strengthens us in the wilderness as we give thanks to the Father who has qualified [us] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (1:12). By giving thanks, they received power over the circumstance. Why?
Thanksgiving releases joy. Paul prays for strength for all endurance and patience with joy (Col 1:12). Hardships demand endurance, and hard people demand patience. Israel perished in the wilderness because they grumbled in the face of hardships; Moses perished in the wilderness because he disobeyed in the face of difficult people. Yet Paul prays for endurance and patience with joy because the joy of God’s presence releases endurance and patience. The joy of the Lord is our strength. When we give thanks we invite God’s presence which releases joy in our midst.
Tomorrow we celebrate thanksgiving. I want to invite you to give thanks. In the midst of whatever food you eat, give thanks together. Sing together. This empowers our obedience. Instead of grumbling and giving power to our circumstances to overwhelm us, let us give thanks to receive power over those circumstance to overcome them.