Thoughtful Gratitude

Thoughtful Gratitude

So, I woke up this morning and like I do every Wednesday morning, I began to think about what I would write in this blog.  I pretty much settled on the traditional November kind of blog that speaks to the ideas of “giving thanks in all things” and “rejoicing always”. We are going through Thessalonians in Adult Sunday School and will be covering how thanksgiving and praise is to be incorporated into our corporate worship and so I thought repetition would be good. Having settled that, I walked to the shower, pulled the curtain back, and was greeted by one of those brown cave crickets.  I am not a fan. I went to reach for something to try and communicate to this creature how much I am not a fan and I took my eye off it for a second.  When I looked back up, he was gone.  Now, they love my shower and I have felt them crawling up my legs before and I did not want a repeat of that.  When that happens, I would look down, scream like a girl, and dance like an idiot.  As I say, I am not a fan.  So, this morning, I am looking everywhere.  I finally found him and vigorously defended my homestead.

As I showered I began to think about how I should give thanks for this and how I should be rejoicing.  All the usual thoughts came to me: this was an infrequent occurrence, it was only one, it was not crawling on me, etc.  What struck me was how easy it was to turn this morning’s menace into a situation of thanksgiving and praise.  All that it took was a little work and a redirecting of my thoughts. Sometimes, I find that I have not done that kind of work for a while and so Thanksgiving comes at a good time.  It reminds me of the work I must do to give thanks and praise for all things.

I have a couple of friends who are battling cancer.  I recently visited both of them and it struck me, this morning, how hard they were working to give thanks and praise.  They both are honestly facing the battle they are in but they are also spending time working at giving thanks and praise.  One of my friends is participating in experimental treatments due to the rarity of the type of cancer that she has.  She is certainly hoping that the treatments work for her but she is thankful that the experiments done on her might help many more down the road.  This allows her to see some purpose in her suffering and allows her to rejoice.  My other friend is battling his second round with cancer.  He works hard at remembering the past years that he did not believe he would have, but God, in his grace, has given to him.  Like David, who learned to fight the giant by fighting the lion and the bear first, my friend works hard to remember God’s deliverance in the past and so he lives each day trusting and leaning on his heavenly Father.  This gives him much to rejoice in.

Thanksgiving and praise can be hard work.  They take effort.  In every situation, no matter how bleak, if we look hard enough, there is reason to be grateful and to give praise.  This is not a platitude.  “Every cloud has a silver lining” or “The sun will come out tomorrow”. Rather than platitudes, these are God given, eternal truths that reveal the character of your Heavenly Father .  We can change our lives and attitudes based on them.  My first friend knows that what gives her heart joy is helping others.  She is convinced that God, in his sovereign control, allowed her treatment to be special so that she could understand the help she is being to others.  Knowing that God is in complete control of all things has changed her perspective and insight into what is happening to her.  My second friend has seen the healing hand of God.  He knows the power of prayer.  He trusts that God hears him.  And while that does not guarantee healing now, it does place him in the holy hands of the God whom he trusts completely.

Working hard to give thanks and praise is not simply a self help idea to turn your frown upside down.  It is the process of placing your life into the hands of the almighty God who has revealed much about himself. He has done this so that we can know him and trust him during our darkest hours.  We do not have the power of positive thinking, we have the knowledge of who He is and that leads to thanksgiving and praise.

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