A few years ago, my friend and her husband surprised their sons with a trip to Disney World. The boys were asked to clean their rooms, choose a few outfits and go to bed early. They had no idea they were preparing for a wonderful vacation. Imagine how the parents felt if the boys complained about making these adjustments.
From a spiritual perspective, I don’t have to wonder long.
Unaware of what God has planned, I’ve seen opportunities to clean up a mess, choose different priorities or change my routine as burdens instead of blessings.
You may know what I mean. You may also know this:
What are you thankful for or is something testing your gratitude? Health, wealth, family and friends are blessings worth counting for sure.
But the challenge of this verse hits me when life hits me hard. Although 1Thessalonians doesn’t tell us to be thankful for all circumstances, it’s difficult to be grateful in what pains us. For me, this typically involves something or someone I lose.
Losing an opportunity, my patience or losing control can hinder my hallelujah.
As you read this post, it’s likely your life teeters towards your ideal or the chaotic. The middle ground of survival is where most of us stand. We dart between our desires and life’s demands, until the wind of reality reminds us how quickly things can change.
But the power of this verse helps me see things a different way.
Gratitude helps me keep a grip on reality — from God’s point of view. He grants a new day. He gives new mercies. Through Christ, my sins are forgiven and my soul is redeemed.
Being thankful comes easy when laughs are loud and struggles are few. But the same God who grants merriment is the same God who works miracles. He knows what each day holds for each of us. And yet, we hold the key to contentment when our next step is to be thankful.
Gratitude is not just based on how we want things to be. It also expresses our appreciation for who God is in all things. Reflecting on His goodness positions us for His plans and guards the heart from what drains us.
Complaints crawl away from the gate of a grateful heart.
Doubt can do nothing in a soul who delights in the Lord.
Self-pity drowns in the water of our wanting Him more.
Then the truth of this verse holds me with the wonder of God’s will.
Being thankful is in order because “belonging to Christ” is as good as it gets. Even when it looks like what should be and what is stands far apart, I can still look to Him.
A tearful hallelujah acknowledges whatever causes me pain can still be a part of His purpose.
A smile is more than a frown turned upside down. It can also be a sign of anticipation as we pray for His will in secret, knowing He will reward us openly. (see Matthew 6:6)
Let’s transform by being thankful, my friend. It is the dance of the disappointed. It is the shout of the victorious and the banner of every believer in Christ.
Gratitude cooperates with God’s grace as He takes us to the next step in His will. My friend’s sons might think that looks like Disney World. But for me it’s the place where I find hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” – Psalms 105:1 NLT