give-thanks1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It’s Thanksgiving eve and whether you are preparing a large meal for family, or just going to a community dinner with some friends, we always seem to reflect on what we are thankful for. But I want you to think about something a little different today.

Does God ask us to give thanks in our good times, when we realize just how much God has blessed us? Does God ask us to give thanks when we get married, have our first child, go on vacation, get a new job, or maybe even retire from our job? Does God ask us to give thanks for his gift of Jesus Christ, whom he sent to die in our place, for our sins? Yes, yes, all of this! Give thanks!

But that’s not it. That’s not all, there’s more. God wants us to give thanks in all things. Paul writes this letter, telling us that we should give thanks in all circumstances, not just the good things, not just the things we consider blessings. God wants us to give thanks even in the messy things, even when we don’t feel like we should. Have you ever heard the poem “Thankful for Dirty Dishes?” It goes like this.

Thank you for dirty dishes;

They have a tale to tell.

While others may go hungry,

We’re eating very well.

With home, health, and happiness,

I shouldn’t want to fuss;

By the stack of evidence,

God’s been very good to us.

We should be thankful for those good things, but also for all the ordinary things. I’m thankful for annoying relatives, for needy brothers and sisters, and for that aunt who always wanted to pinch my cheeks and talk to me like a baby, even if I was thirteen.

I’m thankful for all these messy things because life doesn’t always have to look like the perfection that we used to see all the time in sitcoms, magazines, and now see on social media. Life is messy, there’s no getting around that. And we deceive ourselves when we believe that our life can be that way. I mean really, think about it, do you know anyone who has that perfect life, the perfect family, the perfect house, or even the perfect Thanksgiving Day celebration?

Sure, we all try and there have been years that I’m sure you were disappointed when things didn’t turn out just the way you wanted them. The turkey was dry, the kids were too noisy, someone forgot the corn in the microwave, or the hostess that year forgot to take the neck out of the turkey before cramming all that stuffing into the bird.

Life is not lived in that perfect, utopian world. It is lived out in our everyday lives, and those lives are messy. So why don’t we thank God for the messy things in our lives. So, sometimes it is good to give God thanks for those messy things, those ordinary things, those difficult things. God wants us to give thanks in everything, and that means the messy things. Giving messy thanks!

If you were to give God some messy thanks, what would it be? Remember that God wants you to give thanks in everything, because we need to see that Romans 8:28 is correct in telling us that all things work for the good for those who love God. Where have you seen this good, where have you witnessed God’s power to transform things for the good, where have you witnessed messy thanks?