I have to be honest: I am struggling to be thankful for everything this Thanksgiving week. There are a couple things that are bringing a lot of discord and heartache right now. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this struggle. My prayer is the words that are helping me right now might be helpful to you, too.
Paul was familiar with this struggle. He counseled the Church at Ephesus to live wisely, to make the most of every opportunity, and to give thanks for everything. I wonder if they were as receptive to that instruction as I am. *sighhhh*
giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:20 (NIV c.1973)
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time implementing that “everything” part. How do we give thanks for negative medical diagnoses? Or people who don’t care about how they hurt us (or just make us so very angry)? Or financial struggles? Or losing a job? How can God expect our frail and flawed hearts to be thankful in the midst of all that??
Well, you know what? He doesn’t. God knows we’re incapable of being thankful for EVERYTHING in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE….in our own power. It is only through Jesus that we are able to see these situations – and these people – from God’s perspective. And it’s only when we bow before Him in prayer and surrender our emotions that we can finally see some light in our darkness, and give thanks for whatever He is going to do through these circumstances.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned (or rather, had to re-learn over an over), it’s that my emotions are irrelevant. How I’m seeing things is probably distorted at best; totally off-the-mark at worst. But when I let go of my attachment to being right, or being comfortable….and step out of the way so God can step back in…..THAT’S when the situation begins to change. Or at least how it affects me changes. The act of being spiritually obedient (being thankful for everything) allows me to take control of the only thing I ever really had any control over: ME.
This Thanksgiving, let’s take comfort in this: We are not alone in our circumstances, whatever they are! And even though we may feel overwhelmed, God is right here in the midst of all our mess, and He is in control. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed, repeat this little mantra with me:
God, I know You are in control.
I surrender my emotions about this situation to You.
Replace my feelings with Your Peace.
I believe if we correct our negative thoughts about a situation and replace them with the positive ones we find in God’s Word, we CAN give thanks to the LORD for everything…..because He is good, and His love endures forever. (Psalm 118:1 NIV, c.1973). We just have to trust Him to walk us through the rough patches. But He has proven Himself faithful and able every time before, so that’s what I’m going to do. I hope you are, too. And remember….
Extend grace. Receive grace.