Thankfulness. Just the word evokes feelings of contentment and the Fall season. Maybe that’s why the word came to me during one of my recent quiet times as I look out the window and watch the season turn, mug of tea in hand.
If you ask someone, if they’re “Thankful”, especially around this time of year you’d probably get near universal agreement that, yes, yes I am.
Unfortunately, the more I dwelt on Thankfulness, the more I realized I don’t really embody it.
Here’s a little test:
1) Do you spend more time dwelling on what you’ve been given, or what you’d like to receive?
2) When you pray, are there more “thank you God”s or “God please _____”s?
3) If you have a good day but a crummy ride home, do you show up to the dinner table in a good mood or a bad one?
I already admitted that I don’t embody thankfulness. Neither, I’d hazard to guess, do you.
How do I know that? Because I know the people I encounter throughout the day. Busy, frustrated, stressed, needy and ill-content. Even good, well meaning people. Anyone standing in a Starbucks line knows this. Here we are, standing in air-conditioning, about to blow more then the average worker makes in a day on a cup of coffee, and we’re tapping our foot in snappish impatience. (2.8 billion people live on less then $2 per day, 5.25 billion on less then $10)). I remember walking into a US supermarket with someone from a third world country. They took one look around and started crying. I’m annoyed that I have search so hard to find my favorite brand of ketchup.
Here’s another test… ask the person next to you about their day. Chances are they’ll tell you about what went wrong, rather then right.
In the Bible, we find Paul telling us he’s found the secret to being content in shipwrecks and persecutions and hunger and nakedness. That content is grounded, he says, on a few things: Knowledge that this life is temporary (1 Cor 7:31, 2 Cor 4:18). Knowledge that God is using even these circumstances for good (Rom 8:28). And finally, thankfulness for what God has done for him, because he is cognizant of what he really deserves instead. (1 Tim 1:13)
The truth is that the key to thankfulness is knowing (and valuing) what you have been given. In order to be thankful, you have to have something to be thankful for.
As a Christian, we are saved from hell, made right with God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, loved, forgiven of our sins, guaranteed an eternity in Heaven and promised new life. Just to name the very highest of the high points.
That’s it. The battle has been won. The victory is complete. All we have to do is keep our eyes on the Victor. (2 Cor 2:14)
But, and maybe it’s just me, it is so hard to do that when the bills are larger then the check, the stress is more then the joy and the to-do list seems to get longer then the hours available to complete it. Anyone else? Anyone?
Based on the conversations I’ve had it seems it’s not just anyone, but most everyone.
So, what the solution?
Year’s ago a wise friend gave me some advice that I’ve had cause to repeat:
He said “whenever what you feel is out of line with the Truth, give your feelings time to catch up to the Truth”.
The truth is that we are saved, loved, forgiven, redeemed, etc. That God is in control, that He is working all things for our good and His glory, that He is Almighty and Omniscient, etc. (No matter what our feelings suggest.) And in those moments when it feels like we’re on shaky ground, we need to remember the truth.
That was Paul’s secret. And it can be ours too.
I find that when I dwell on who God is, His love for me, the victory that is already won; I find that I a have perspective… that I can look at the things that are really pressing on me, the things that I merely think are pressing on me and the Truth and see them all in their proper balance.
And an amazing thing happens…when I see who God is, how much He has done and who I am in Him, I become… thankful.
And slowly but surely my prayers, my interactions, my life begins to reflect that.
I pray yours will too.
President & Publisher
Tapestry Productions Inc