Yesterday was ThanksLiving Day. We can give thanks or we can just make it a way we live – in finding ways to be thankful even when we have to drag in the excavation crew to clear away the shambles and shine a light on fresh perspective. It’s possible, even probable when we have the right tools. Here’s one of them. Ready crew?
Have you ever had a decision to make and set up a piece of paper with a line drawn down the center so you could list Pros on one side and Cons on the other? If you haven’t, this thanksliving tool will still work for you. Remember the tough job of excavation is to dig deep and move earth. Instead of Pros and Cons, we’re looking for Thankful on one side and Troubled on the other. Let the excavation begin!
We are entering the season of lists, kept where we can find them quickly to keep track of what to do or things to buy. Like those lists, leave this one where it’s easily accessible. We all have much to be thankful for and many things that trouble us. When you feel troubled, write it down. When you feel thankful, write it down. That’s the easy part, the survey of the land. Excavation – turning over dirt – digging deep – leveling the land – that’s the tough part. Ready for the challenge?
It seems impossible to be thankful for troubling circumstances, sadness, heartbroken loneliness, anxiety, frustrations, boredom, illness, and shattered relationships. Daniel experienced all those things yet it says in Daniel 6:10 “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God.” We think uttering the words ‘thank you’ is like lying to yourself or is the same as telling God you’re exuberant and happy, when in fact you’re deeply distressed. This is not a high five thank you; but instead is an opportunity to tell God you’re not happy, and ask him to teach you what you need to learn – like leveling the wreckage.
Remember the excavation task is heavy lifting. Don’t try this alone. Call on trusted friends who will pray you through trouble without knowing the details. Recently I was shocked to learn that women all over the country were praying for me during the recovery period of my debilitating accident. Prayers are effective in any situation: troubling, devastating, sorrowful, depressing, exciting, happy, anticipatory, contented – prayer is universal and inclusive. This truth shared Colossians 1:9 carries over into our lives today “We have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”
We don’t know why – but we can know that it’s God’s will for us to be thankful in all circumstances. 1Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Being thankful in all circumstances is never easy, but it will change your life; and change it for the better. Now giving up is always an option, but what will come of that? Nothing good; constant regurgitation of the same old cycle. Think of Nehemiah. Wasn’t he some sort of contractor with a huge excavation and building challenge? He was dealing with defeat too. Guess what he was up against. Nehemiah 6:9 “They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.” I prayed, “Give me strength.”” Seriously …. He prayed for strength to go on, to finish his task. “Lord, give me strength.”
To live thankfully we need audacious faith and wisdom to live with an attitude of gratitude. There’s an app for that. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Lord, give me wisdom to live like your child and teach me how to be thankful in all circumstances, even when I feel like my life is a shipwreck. Show me the path you have for me so I can get on it and serve you this day. Thank you for monitoring every detail of my life and working them out in ways that best honor and glorify you. Amen