The day of the year we designate as "Thanksgiving" means a lot of different things to different people. The national holiday was instituted by President Abraham Lincoln to commemorate the first harvest feast the Pilgrims and Indians enjoyed together in Plymouth back in 1621. For many in our day it's a time to do such things as gather with family and devour mass quantities of food, travel to visit parents/grandparents, watch sports on TV, or plan a shopping strategy for the following day! But as Christians we also realize the importance of giving special emphasis to the many blessings the Lord has given us ... family, good health, great experiences, a degree of prosperity, friends, possessions, church, etc. We can think of so many good things God has done and continues to do for us. But do we ever pause and think it's a good idea to thank God for our suffering, difficulties, and hardships? We may remember to thank God that He got us through some difficult times, but do we thank Him for the actual and specific difficulties? I confess ... I don't do a good job with this. It just doesn't make much sense ... why would we give thanks for our suffering?
This is the very question we will address this Sunday (Nov 24) as we study Romans 5:3-4. Of course there are several other similar passages that support the idea of giving thanks and rejoicing in our suffering - Matt 5:10-12; Acts 5:41; Phil 1:29; James 1:2-3; 1 Pet 3:14; 2 Cor 12:9-10. Please read the Romans passage as well as these others as you prepare your heart to come to worship and explore this question about suffering.
And don't forget to make plans to attend the annual Thanksgiving Feast Sunday night at 5:30. Bring a main dish and some sort of side, salad, or dessert. Perhaps that evening we'll have some opportunity to give thanks to God for the difficulties we're facing.