Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Can you believe it is already Thanksgiving again? That came so quickly this year. I know that writing about “thankfulness” on Thanksgiving is very cliche and expected, but this blog has been laid on my heart for a couple weeks now and it just so happens that it came right around the time of Thanksgiving. But I don’t want to just sit here and list off all the things I am thankful for or all the things we should be grateful for, but rather how God uses choosing thankfulness and gratitude to completely change and impact your life in ways you would have never imagined. Similar to the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” having a spirit of gratitude is something we often have to choose and is given to us through the Holy Spirit. So, that is where I want to focus this blog today, because I personally do not always have a grateful attitude nor does my spirit reflect that of thankfulness.
I have realized that often there are times when I find myself wrapped up in complaining or frustration because of one thing or another. Gas prices going up, someone driving 20 miles under the speed limit, a family member who ate the rest of the food you specifically set aside to eat that day. These examples are frustrating and I am sure we all have those things in our day-to-day lives that really set us on edge. The Lord brought to my attention just the other day in what seemed like a gentle whisper in my ear; “You have been blessed with a car and job to provide gas to drive your car. Sure an increase in gas prices is annoying, but you still have a way to get to and from work.” I know this sounds like such a small thing, but it really hit me hard. Thinking about all of the things I have complained about in my life, all the times I have gotten frustrated because of one thing or the other, I should have still been choosing to have thankful attitude.
You know, I once heard a story about a servant and his king. The king went out to practice his sword fighting and lost one of his fingers. The servant looked at his king with a smile and said “this is good.” The king was confused by this, but went on after his hand was bandaged. A few days later, a person came to the palace with the intention to kill him, but was stopped before he had the chance. As the king looked to his servant, the servant looked at him with a smile and said “this is good.” The king was beginning to become annoyed with his servant and that night was tortured by a dream. When the king woke up and told the servant, the servants reply was “this is good.” Outraged by the servants lack of compassion and ignorant response, the servant was thrown in jail. A day went by and the king was out for a walk, when out of no where was captured by cannibals. They were planning to eat the king, but because he was not complete without his finger, they threw him out of their village and he returned to the kingdom. The king ran to the jail, to his servant and told him all that had happened. The servant shouted with joy, saying “this is good!”. The king finally asked why the servant responded that way, and the servant said “I did not lose a finger. Had i not been thrown into jail, I would’ve been with you, and they would have surely killed me.”
Why am I telling this silly and irrelevant story to you today? Because I can see how things happened for a reason in the kings life, and even though the king was miserable about it, the servant still chose to see good in it and was thankful. Even after being thrown in jail, you can see that had he been with the king when he was captured, he would have been killed. This same situation can be applied in our own lives. I know I have mentioned choosing joy before in past blogs, and I believe wholeheartedly that thanksgiving and gratitude is also a choice. We make the conscious decision to be grateful, and then the Lord takes over from there. When something bad happens to you, or when you find things becoming frustrating in your life, how do you respond?
I can tell you truthfully, I do not always respond with gratitude. This is what I am getting at. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. We are to give thanks in all circumstances, not just some. Not just the situations that bring us joy or the ones that are easy to be thankful for, but the ones that you really have to decide to be grateful. It is not easy, nor is it enjoyable to choose gratitude when you feel upset, or angry. I completely understand it because I struggle with this as well. But God has given us an outline to model ourselves after. Psalms 107:1, “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”
Something that the Lord has reminded me of time and time again when I struggle with being grateful is Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” I really want to emphasize the “And we know…” in that verse. “We know” is present; the verse does not say “And we knew at one time,” nor does it say “And we will someday know.” It says that we know; currently, in this present time and state of being, that all things are working for the benefit of those who love Christ. That’s us, brothers and sisters! God works all things, good or bad, to benefit us. I know things happen to us, terrible and heart wrenching things in our lives that we cant seem to be grateful for. I get that; there are still things in my life that I am working on being grateful for even though they were miserable. But that is where our faith comes in.
We have to choose to believe that this verse is truth. That this is a promise straight from God that we can rest peacefully knowing that it will be fulfilled. Believe me, remembering this, praying for strength to be thankful in all circumstances, God will use to benefit your life and walk as a believer in so many ways. And even when in the moment we don’t see how it could possibly be a good thing for us, God uses it for our good and we look back. Remember, that even though it was hard to be thankful and trust God, you still did and you can see the Lord working right before your eyes. “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what o am doing, but later you will understand.'” John 13:8.
So yes, today is about giving thanks and showing gratitude, but I really want to emphasize the need to do this every day, not just on Thanksgiving. Not only when we feel grateful or thankful, but even when we must chose to have a spirit of gratitude. Since we are on the topic of Thanksgiving, I pray you all know how thankful I am to have been blessed with the opportunity to come here and open up with you all and be able to grow with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I thank you all for taking the time to read these blogs and comment on them. And I also thank you for your prayers. Not just for me, but for the body of believers we have here and that there are across the world. Let’s choose to be grateful today and the rest of days, because in reality, we have been given the gift of eternal life through Christ that cannot be taken from us. Rejoice in this truth, and find thankfulness in all things, knowing what awaits you when you stand before the feet of our Lord and Savior. God bless and have a happy Thanksgiving!