Have you ever had a time when you were just not feeling very thankful? Come on admit it- we have all been through times that challenged our thankfulness. As I think about those who are dealing with the destruction from Hurricane Matthew, I am sure many are feeling thankful to be alive. However many are feeling pretty low wondering what they are going to do. I know of a few people who are going through difficult, painful health issues and I am sure you know someone as well. Busting with thankfulness is not necessarily on the forefront of their minds. To all of those of you dealing with these kinds of difficult issues, I am sure you don’t need a lecture on why you should be thankful. I do hope you will be able to say you are thankful to all who reached out to you with help, love, and support. To all the hurricane victims, I hope one day you will be able to look back and be thankful for all who helped in the cleanup and got you back on your feet. I hope you will soon be thankful for all that came to help with labor, food, and supplies, hint, hint folks. I hope many will be thankful that they were able to help by giving of their time, talent, or treasure to those in need. We all pray for you who are dealing with difficult health issues that your healing is near and thankfulness will soon flood your heart. Then there are those who just flat out think they have drawn the short straw and life in general stinks. There are also those who have been spoiled by so many blessings that thankfulness never crosses their minds. What about being thankful it was you not me? Who needs any of that kind of thankfulness? Our affluent society has all too often produced greed, selfishness, and ungratefulness, not thankfulness. To you, I say repent. Take a look around you and see how much you have to be thankful for. Put your life in perspective. Stop looking at what you don’t have and look at what you do have. Learn to be thankful you are no longer selfish. Consider others rather than yourself. To all who know the Lord and have been saved from your sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, that deserves a great big thank you, Lord. Regardless of what you may be going through, the future is bright. We all should put our life and circumstances into perspective. This is not our final home or our final state. If we only find joy and happiness worthy of thankfulness during our time on this earth, our thankfulness will fall short. Share your faith. Tell people about the Cornerstone, and maybe someone will be thankful they met you and thankful they have been saved from their sin. Two songs come to mind I hope get stuck in your head. They are oldies: “Thank you for Giving to the Lord” and “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”. Treat yourself and google them. You will be thankful you did. I am thankful for turkey, just sayin’. (Col 3:15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
WHAT ARE WE KNOWN FOR?
Are we known for our lavish thanksgiving? Do we model thanksgiving to our children and grandchildren? Do our friends know us as people who murmur more than we magnify? When covetousness and discontentment tempt us, do we vanquish them with the powerful weapon of gratitude and satisfaction? Those questions are pointed and sharp. They have the power to expose our pride, reveal our selfishness and exploit our weakness to the tempter’s snare. They also serve as guideposts or billboards on the roadway of life. Have you every driven by a billboard that simply asked a question? It made you wonder and ponder the answer, right? So is the purpose of the earlier questions I posed to myself and to you, the reader. It’s been said that a smile is contagious, and I believe it’s indeed true. I also believe that thankfulness can likewise be contagious or it might even serve to be convicting. The Apostle Paul was a man known for being thankful. In many of his letters he would express his heartfelt gratitude for the people to whom he was writing. In Philippians 1:3-5 Paul writes, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”(ESV) I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been to hear of Paul’s gratitude if I were a member of the church at Philippi. Don’t you think it would have spurred on those Christians to joyfully serve the Lord? The Psalms are also filled with the commendation of thanksgiving. Psalm 147:7 summons God’s people to, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving.” Psalm 100:4 calls the people to, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” Life can be trying at times as we endure many tests, anxieties, trials and fears. Yet the day smattered with trouble is also marked with many blessings so that the eyes of our hearts might be fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ who is our hope in good times and in bad. Paul knew trial and triumph, the Psalmist understood joy and pain and we like them can rejoice in the Lord at all times, trust in his loving care and abound in thanksgiving in every season. Let us keep our eyes upon him, the author and finisher of our faith and the fountain of everlasting joy.
THANKFULNESS THROUGH TRIALS
This is the time of year I look forward to most! Spending time with family, enjoying some holiday festivities, and it’s the kick off to Christmas. It’s the time of year where everyone takes the time to think about the year and think of all the blessings to be thankful for. I know sometimes it’s easy for us to think “I wish I had more of…” or “things would have been better if...” But what about those of us who really have been through some troubling trials this past year? Should we still be thankful? Coming from someone who has been through a heartbreaking year, we must remain thankful for and faithful to God’s will. This year Thanksgiving is just going to be a hard day. Something I have been wanting to share with you all is that it was this time last year Ryan and I found out I was pregnant with our first. We were beyond thrilled! But sadly, we lost the baby in January. I would have a three month old right now that I would be calling my ‘little turkey’! As hard as this year has been, I still thank the Lord every day for all that He has given my husband and I. I praise Him most knowing that my child is safe in His arms and that He saved him or her from any suffering that might have occurred while here on earth. I don’t know the reason of why God chose to give and then take away and I may not ever really know until I reach my heavenly home. Maybe you’re dealing with something similar to my situation. If that’s the case, I mean it with all my heart that I’m sorry for your heartbreak! I know walking through grief can be a tough up and down rollercoaster ride, but what keeps us grounded is our faith and hope in Christ. It’s there that we’re able to say “I didn’t receive what I was hoping for, and my heart hurts Lord, but you are a mighty God, and my God, and I trust that you have a perfect plan for me.” I looked back at Chris’s article from November and oh how it rings true: “As you journey through life’s many twisting paths, know that it’s the Lord of Glory who directs those roads. He promises his Word to be a light and lamp to our feet and our path. He assures us that He’s working all things according to His perfect plan. Yet, He’s calling you and me to trust in Him in every way through every day. May His peace be with you as He leads you.” I’ve spent the past 10 months leaning on the promises of God and on His strength and I will continue to count my blessings because they are bountiful. This year has taught me how to truly be thankful. Even in the midst of trials. God Bless.
Reading the verse above from Paul’s letter to the Philippians reminds me of those who partnered in the gospel on my behalf many years ago (even though they were not from just one church group like the Philippians.) I surrendered my life to Christ at age twenty-three with much of my growing years void of Christ’s presence. Still, there are many people on my path of salvation for whom I can be thankful. First, were the adults in the church classroom who helped four-year-old me make Christmas ornaments of baby Jesus and Mary. A middle school friend encouraged my participation in church on Sunday mornings after our sleepovers. A housekeeper prayed for me and confidently praised Jesus. My math teacher left gospel tracts in the back of his classroom to read, college dorm mates shared Scripture and their love for Jesus, and there are others. While it was easy for anyone to see the darkness in my life then and have compassion, I can only guess at why these different people showed me such thoughtfulness and care. Maybe they actually loved me. Maybe they were just being obedient to the Lord’s commands to “go and tell”. Of course, I understood none of significance of their efforts until Jesus became my Lord and Savior. Now, I realize the value of the gift of salvation and the value in their efforts. And I want to thank them! Where they are now? Some are in heaven by now I’m sure. The others- well, let’s just say that I’m no Nancy Drew. I don’t remember most of their names, but the Lord sees and knows them all. So, until I reunite with them here or in heaven, I thank God for their love and sacrifice and ask God to bless each of them. Even more, I thank God for His saving grace, for everything good, and for having made me a partner in the gospel too. Do you know what could make the start of a meaningful Thanksgiving season in Christ for you? Taking a stroll yourself down the Memory Lane of your path to salvation and giving thanks to God for the people you remember. Even being a partner in the gospel on someone else’s path. As always, thank you for partnering with this ministry- God bless you!