Lessons in Thanksgiving: Paul the Grateful Apostle

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The apostle Paul suffered greatly in his life, yet wrote 13 books of the New Testament, and the majority of the teachings on thankfulness, despite his challenges. Here are his inspirational words on Thanksgiving.

The life of the apostle Paul: Suffering and challenges

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

– 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The life of the apostle Paul, the foremost author of the New Testament in the Bible, life is not only noteworthy for his teachings, but equally in light of his dedication despite his sufferings. Most people would have given up in similar circumstances – but not Paul.

Let’s consider his own words that describe some of the events that come from 2 Corinthians 11:

  • in stripes above measure (being whipped).
  • in prisons more frequently
  • faced death often
  • from the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one
  • three times I was beaten with rods
  • once I was stoned
  • three times I was shipwrecked
  • in perils of waters
  • in perils of robbers
  • in sleeplessness often
  • in hunger and thirst
  • in often fastings
  • in cold and nakedness

And this is just in one book of the New Testament! There is so much more throughout his writings describing what he endured.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul speaks of a “thorn…in the flesh” and his prayers to God three times to remove it, but God refuses.

Being thankful despite challenges

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:9

Here Paul teaches us the lesson of his thorn in the flesh, challenges, and weaknesses. It is a lesson for us all to be thankful and grateful, and use circumstances to strengthen our resilience no matter what we face.

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:10

The lesson of Paul: Thankfulness

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

–Ephesians 5:20

If there is one major theme throughout the 13 books of the New Testament written by Paul it is Thankfulness.

Paul’s life was one of every circumstance yet whether he faced joy, sorrow, adversity, or having his very life threatened, he remained grateful and thankful, always praying to God. That’s the lesson for all of us, whether we are in health or wealth or in sickness or poverty – give thanks always.

Paul saw that our thankfulness lies in the blessings of redemption to come, the life in heaven that awaits us through the suffering and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our sufferings now are worth everything we endure, as they pale in comparison to the glory to come for those who endure.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

– Colossians 3:15-17