Learning to do anything well takes practice. Riding a bicycle, baking bread, drawing, playing an instrument and so on. Practicing something means we give it time and attention and focus on being better at it.
The same is true when it comes to the practice of being thankful in all circumstances.
Most of the time, we think that our struggles are unique to just us. But there are many stressors that we all have in common.
- Stress at work
- Not having work stress (jobless)
- Family struggles
- Financial woes
- Vehicle issues
- A To Do List that’s too long
- Arguments with our children (adult ones or small ones)
- Disagreements with our spouse
- Spiritual battles
- Emotional health
- Not enough sleep/rest
- Physical health concerns
- Aging parents
And so on. I think it is safe to say that each of us can relate with at least one of the above, or more. The reality is that those are “normal life” issues. We will all experience most of those things at one time or another in our life. Probably more than once.
So, what can we do about it? Well, each struggle requires a different set of “tools” to handle it well. But there is one thing we can do, regardless of which of the above struggles we are facing. Give thanks!
Last week we talked about being thankful and expressing gratitude. I want to circle back around to that and put some feet on it, if you will.
Lines from movies tend to stick with me. I enjoy bringing them into conversation often! But as I watched the following movie clip, and placed myself and God in the conversation, it was funny and sad at the same time!
I don’t want my prayer life to resemble this guy, from the movie “What About Bob”
We need to practice thankfulness in addition to petition. As we talked about last week, we are all guilty of asking God for “things” or for help more often than we remember to thank Him for all He has already done. The habit of practicing thankfulness is an important element of our spiritual lives.
My handsome hubs and I have known some tough times during our life together. We have experienced the pain of miscarriage. We have experienced job loss. We have been through some tough ministry changes together. We have parented four teenagers through their difficult years. We have experienced the heartache involved in watching our grown children stray from the Lord. And we have seen some of our precious grandchildren go through some difficult health issues.
In those times, we have developed a practice that we fall back to when times are tough. As we sit together, one of us will say to the other “Okay, what is something good right now?” And we start listing all the things that we still can find thankfulness in, despite our current situation. Generally, we start with the big things, our home, our jobs, our adorable grandchildren. But as we keep going back and forth, and adding to the list, we find that there is even more to be thankful for. The silver lining as it were.
For instance, as our grandchildren dealt with health issues, we could be thankful that they had good parents who were loving and supportive. That modern medicine exists, and can help to bring them through their health crisis. We could be thankful for the people in their parent’s lives, who came alongside them to help where they could and gave of their time.
With regard to ministry changes, we were thankful for God’s provision toward our finances, even though it wasn’t easy. Thankful that friends were there to support us emotionally, and in other ways. Thankful that God was working His plan for us through that loss. And we were thankful for the contacts and friends we made during our time in that ministry, and how many of those are still friends today.
The habit of practicing thankfulness is not some kind of superpower. It doesn’t just belong to extra spiritual people. And it isn’t a platitude to throw out flippantly. It is something that each of us can and should be practicing.
Embracing the practice of thankfulness changes our heart. It can take us from despair and discouragement to a heart of hope and praise.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The key phrases in this scripture are “in every situation” and “by prayer and petition, WITH thanksgiving”. The fact that this scripture addresses every situation implies or recognizes that we will experience things that are difficult. God knows that this will happen to us. He is instructing us, through the Apostle Paul, to pray and to petition (or ask) And to be thankful.
When we recognize and praise God for what He has already done in our lives, we worship through thanksgiving. Giving thanks is a form of worship. And if you and I choose to worship through a storm, we will win. We win against depression and discouragement. And we win against the enemy who tries to keep us focused on our struggles.
Psalm 121:1 says “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” If we can lift up our eyes to focus them on Jesus, and remember to thank him for what He has done already, we will more readily see His hand of provision over us and His deep love for us in everything! We won’t stop having struggles or needs. He desires that we come to Him with those too, but with thanksgiving, we shift our focus onto Him. We switch from worry to worship.
Let’s worship through thanksgiving!
Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay