Do You Have a Thankful Heart?

What if I were to tell you that I know what God’s will is for your life? Sound a little iffy?

Actually, I do. I can tell you that it’s God’s will for you to be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

That’s pretty clear. And I didn’t say it, God did.

So what does it mean to give thanks in all circumstances? We’ve heard sermons on how this doesn’t mean we are thankful FOR all circumstances, we just have to be thankful IN them. But really, what is the difference? No, we don’t have to say, “Thank you, God,” for cancer or for tragic accidents, but we can still say, “Thank you, God,” that we don’t walk through any of it alone. We can be thankful for what God will teach us as we walk through.

No, we don’t have to like what is happening, but we can still find something to be thankful for. In God’s economy, nothing is wasted, so each life circumstance has some sort of value in eternity. We might never guess what that value is as we are during a terrible situation, but God knows the value and must have decided it was worth it, or he would never have allowed it in the first place.

As I watched my mother die of cancer over an 18-month period, I had a hard time being thankful. But at her funeral, my father came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Was it worth it? I think if I could ask my mother today, as she sits at the Lord’s feet, she would say it was absolutely worth it.

How do you stay thankful when you are watching a loved one die an agonizing death? Or when a friend has lost a child? Or when a marriage has disintegrated beyond repair? God could have prevented those tragedies and yet, He allowed them. How can we be thankful?

We are thankful that God is still good. We are thankful that God is still a loving God. We are thankful that God walks with us through every step of every journey he calls us to. Life is difficult. We can easily forget to look for the things to be thankful for.

In her book, Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by SightJennifer Rothschild talks about how she lost her sight at 15 and how she’s learned to be thankful for her life in the 30 years since that time. She says,  “I genuinely thank God for what I do have, because it’s so much greater than what I’ve lost.”

And, Dietrich Bonhoeffer perhaps summed it all up the best when he said,” Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.”

Life is bittersweet at times, and we must never allow ourselves to hang on to the bitter at the expense of the sweet. Thank God today for where you are, because He is right there with you. Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Be thankful for the morning!

 “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13 (CSB)

5 Things (At Least) That I Thanked God For Last Night

It happened again. Something very simple, that most people (including me) take for granted, was turned upside down. I was reminded to be thankful for something very necessary but something I don’t think I have ever actually voiced thanks for.

I came home from church last night excited about how the women’s Bible study had gone even though I had struggled through the evening because I have been having ear issues again. Sometimes my ears fill up and I feel like I am on an airplane. The yawning trick doesn’t work. Nothing works. I just wait it out. It, along with progressive hearing loss, is part of what people with Meniere’s Disease deal with.  As I sat working on my computer, the fullness in my ears that I’d struggled with at church seemed to be getting worse, loud ringing made it hard to concentrate. Then I turned my head…bad idea. The room began to spin and I knew instantly what was happening. A full blown Meniere’s attack. The first and only other major attack I’ve had was when I was first diagnosed in 2005. Generally I just deal with mild dizziness and not this overpowering vertigo.  I took some motion sickness medication,  had Randy help me get into bed and then I tried to lay as still as possible. He had put a bucket beside my bed just in case!   As I tried to relax, I started talking to God. I’d learned in our study at church that God’s strength is greater than anything  I can possibly face in my life. I started thanking Him for His presence. And I also began thanking Him for everything else I could think of. It helped to focus on being thankful and not on whether my stomach was about to rebel.

So what was I thankful for last night?  The first thing I thanked God for was my balance.  I’ve taken balance for granted. I shouldn’t. Last night was debilitating. I couldn’t move by myself at all. Even with help, it was very difficult. Today things are a  little better.  I took a shower by myself this morning. Do you ever thank God that you can take a shower without help?

The next thing I thanked God for was that I can hear. Even though it’s gotten progressively worse, it’s been 11 years since I was told I could lose my hearing and I can still hear!

I  enjoy a quiet house where I can turn on whatever music I choose and can listen from every room while I move about the house.  I could do that yesterday because the house is quiet.  It’s quiet because all the little people have gone on an adventure in Ohio.  I’m thankful for the quiet.

But I miss them. I will be glad when they return. Even a quiet and peaceful house is no match for the joy I get interacting with my grandchildren on a daily basis. Some days I long for peace, but when I have it, I realize it comes at a great cost. The precious moments I have with my Treasures are priceless.

I’m thankful for the special relationships I’ve built with each of these little ones. Gwenny comes in each morning and asks to smell my candles then asks, ” may I have a little lotion?”  I give her just a dot of lotion on her tiny hand and she rubs her hands together and grins.  It’s our special routine that I miss when she’s gone.  And the little boys come ask me to read some books to them.  And I find on my pillow, little folded up papers taped closed that when I finally get them open say, “I love you Grandma! Love, Ian.”  And the times spent with the older girls doing tea parties, crafts and reading together are so special too. So many wonderful memories being made every day. I am so thankful for this season!

And finally, as I lay there wanting so much for the spinning to stop, I thanked God for the opportunity to practice what I was learning about His strength. Thanked Him for reminding me that in the midst of this latest trial, His strength is still available. He has not changed. He is still a very present help in time of need. For this, Lord, I am truly thankful!

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.