“I give thanks to my God for you because…”
How would you finish that sentence?
The Apostle Paul is thankful for the early church disciples in the city of Corinth. He is thankful because he knows that God’s grace is among them, and Christ has enriched them, and they have what they need to proclaim the good news about Jesus as they wait for him to be revealed to them.
Interesting to note, this gratitude comes at the start of a long letter to address major conflict within the community of faith in Corinth. Paul, getting ready to admonish and teach the Corinthians, starts from a place of gratitude. Pointing out to the church members that they are not lacking in any spiritual gift for the life and work before them. They have already in their midst what they need. Just listen, remember, and live in the grace of God, and the way forward will become clear in Christ.
Sometimes, the best way to address what appears as an insurmountable task or conflict, is to start with eyes of gratitude. Look at the struggle and ask yourself, for what in this are you thankful? What are the strengths in the situation, person, and context that will allow transformation and clarity to happen? Too often we only see the negative and the shortcomings, and therefore cannot see the way through to resolution, restoration, renewal, and/or reconciliation. According to Paul, even a group as conflicted as the Corinthians have the spiritual gifts they need right in their midst.
I give thanks to my God always for you be-cause of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in Christ, in speech and knowledge of every kind — just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you — so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 1:3-9
During Thanksgiving and Christmas, when you encounter a conflict or struggle, I invite you to consider the question, “For what are you thankful in this moment?” What are the strengths that God has already given you that can be used to address the situation? How can a grateful heart, mind and spirit, connect you to the wisdom of Jesus and the path forward?
When you are feeling unsure about yourself or your situation, ask yourself, “What are the strengths that I am grateful for today? What can I leverage to help me see differently and therefore move into a new way of addressing the situation?”
Paul reminds us that we have already been given every spiritual gift that we need in Christ Jesus to live faithfully as his disciples. Therefore, trust in that grace, love and hope. Look for it daily. Appreciate it regularly.
As you gather with family and friends this holiday season, I pray for safe travels, blessed conversation, joyful connection and healing space. May you be and see, the hands and feet of Jesus present in our midst.
Praying for peace and grace to abound…before you, beside you, behind you, below you, above you, all around you, and within you.