We've just celebrated a special holiday. Thanksgiving. This is the time of year when we get more deliberate about thanking God for our families, friends, and all of our blessings. It's good to do that at this time of year, but I want us to focus today on how important it is to cultivate that thankful attitude all year long.
I love the devotional "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. It seems like the Holy Spirit has something to say to me just about every day I read it. Lately the devotions have been talking about being thankful. The picture and quote above is from the devotions for November 24. I'd like to share another line or two from that same page:
"You give me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience -- at times, blind obedience." (Jesus Calling, Nov. 24)
Isn't that amazing? It is so different from what most of the world thinks. Most people think that the only way they'll have joy is if they are free from problems, blessed with good health, and enjoying fulfilling relationships with everyone in their lives.
Jesus calls us to something that seems impossible. Thank Him for everything. Thank Him for the good things, but thank Him for the bad things, too. Thank Him for the hard times, for times of illness, for strained relationships. He has some purpose for them, even though we may never understand.
Only by choosing to be thankful can we experience true joy and peace inside. Note that I am not saying we should just put on a happy face and deny that what we may be going through is hard. Jesus understands if we are sad, fearful, angry, hurt, or just plain tired. We can't stop with those emotions, though. In obedience, blind obedience many times, we choose to give thanks and it helps us get our perspective back. We may not know why we are going through something, but choosing to give thanks will get us back to focusing on God instead of our situation.
Focusing on Him will lead to peace and a joy inside that the rest of the world cannot hope to understand. That joy will shine out from your broken places and will be something beautiful that just may lead someone straight to Jesus.
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
Do you give thanks in good times and in bad? How can focusing on God help you to choose to be thankful?
*I highly recommend Sarah Young's devotional "Jesus Calling" (www.jesuscalling.com) and also Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" which challenges all of us to choose to be thankful, even for the hard things in life. (onethousandgifts.com)