Giving Thanks When Joy Feels Delayed

In light of recent tragedies around the world, we may have quieted our thanks and suspended our joy. Giving thanks now feels insensitive, and on top of that, impractical. As we scan the running dialogue in our heads, we realize that not only is world peace unattainable, but so is mastering our to-do list. The conclusion: now is not the time to express gratitude. We buckle down, push through the day and strive for a future joy.

And yet, God calls believers to give thanks in every circumstance. For what? We may ask ourselves.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).

We give thanks for Christ.

As Paul continues his exhortations, he reveals the cause for the Colossian believers’ abounding gratitude, and it’s not a rundown of their circumstances, a political change, or a coming event; it’s a reminder of their utter completeness, their fullness, in Christ Jesus.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (2:9-10).

For those who are in Christ Jesus, we do not need to wait for joy. Our burdens are light. Nothing eternity-altering has been left undone. “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:13).

We are fully forgiven, fully redeemed, fully loved—even if we never finish that deceivingly complicated Pinterest craft, or sit down for Thanksgiving dinner to find that family tensions have not dissolved, or turn on the news to find troubling updates. Here, in the middle of dirty laundry, family discord and global crises, the kingdom of light shines on us, and invites us to “joyful thanks” (1:12).

This is incredible, joy-worthy news, and it is not just for us, but for the world. It is for those who grieve, those who act out in hate, those who struggle through the daily to-do lists that each season brings, and those who have yet to hear of Christ’s saving grace.

Pause and give joyful thanks to God for your fullness in Christ. Lift up those who have yet to hear of Christ’s completed work on the cross, that they may share in our gratitude and give God the glory due his name.

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