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This Thanksgiving, Let’s Remember to Find Our Gratitude and Joy in God’s Sovereignty


We’re surrounded, in this age, by headline after headline portending bad news and reasons to despair and lose hope, but we as Christians must always derive our hope and purpose through our relationship with Christ, our firm and secure anchor.

Just over 500 years ago, the very first pilgrims landed at Provincetown Harbor and founded Plymouth Colony. One year later, in 1621, after enduring terrible sickness, harsh winters, and other hardships, they would celebrate the very first Thanksgiving.

In the same way, no matter how hard it is to endure an unbelieving world, a hostile political climate, and other challenges, we as Christians must still derive our sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life by being anchored in Christ.

Hebrews 6:19 boldly declares that Christ is our “hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (NIV).

Amid a disappointing world that does not share our Christian values, we can, nonetheless, have a discernable impact on the culture around us by living a life reflecting God’s sovereignty.

We’re surrounded, in this age, by headline after headline portending bad news and reasons to despair and lose hope. Whether it is the decision of Ohio voters to enshrine the murder of the unborn into the state’s constitution under the guise of “bodily autonomy,” the horrific assault committed against the nation of Israel by Hamas terrorists followed by all-out war, or the decline of Christianity in America, it seems like evil is in its ascendancy.

Yet, at the same time, none of these events occurring today are a surprise to God, and Scripture is clear that He remains unmoved and that nothing can challenge His sovereign decree. While Christians have an opportunity to remain joyful as a contrast to the hopeless darkness and lack of purpose offered by the world, the question remains: How can a sovereign God allow so much pain and suffering in the world?

It’s a question that many unbelievers cite as justification for refusing to believe in a merciful and omniscient God, and a question that acclaimed Christian author and apologist C.S. Lewis addresses in his book The Problem of Pain. Lewis, who experienced more than his fair share of loss and suffering, notes,

“We can, perhaps conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, the freedom of the will would be void. That God can and does, on occasions, modify the behavior of matter and produce what we call miracles is part of the Christian faith, but the very conception of a common, and therefore stable world demands that these occasions should be extremely rare… Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free will involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.”

Lewis’s argument centers around the reality that God cannot allow human free will and also maintain a world that is perfectly free of evil. Indeed, the existence of free will requires the possibility for evil to exist at some level; otherwise, human actions would have to be controlled and predetermined for evil to be completely neutralized.

God, in His sovereignty, allows human free will to exist, granted in a limited capacity, and as a result also allows evil to exist — and both are used for His ultimate glory. We see this principle illustrated in Romans 8:28:

“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (ESV).

Although the existence of free will is an example of common grace, something that God has allowed both believers and unbelievers to have, the ultimate redemption from the consequences of that free will is an element of special grace, reserved only for those who are in Christ.

We know from the work of important Christian writers, American history, and — most importantly — Scripture itself that even amid the discouraging trials that “try men’s souls,” in the words of Thomas Paine, God is still sovereign.

As we prepare to spend time with our beloved family members and friends during the 2023 holiday season, let us remember that we are called to be not just grateful but joyful for this same reason — that of Christ’s lordship over a world temporarily under the dominion of Satan, a season that He has allowed as a way of reminding those who are “eagerly waiting for Christ” that our patience in the face of evil is worth it.

So, this Thanksgiving, let us focus on God’s sovereignty and cultivate a mentality of joy, taking to heart the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (ESV).” 

The Church must be involved in public discourse and influence. That’s why we write — so our readers can be equipped to understand and pursue righteous change in the world. For more timely, informative, and faith-based content, subscribe to the Standing for Freedom Center newsletter.

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