We’re in the home stretch of this “full-ness” project that began last January. And this month is about “My Thank-Full Life.” It may seem like a Captain Obvious choice for November…but thankfulness is an attribute that is essential in a Christian’s life.
In some ways—it’s easy to be thankful. I’m thankful for my home…I’m thankful for a car to get me from Point A to Point B…. I’m thankful for a job that enables me to pay the power bill that keeps my home warm, and to that end, I’m thankful for a working furnace. But what about the things we can be thankful for that may not seem obvious? Can we be thankful for our problems and complaints?
Let’s face it—most of our complaints are pretty first-world problems. We complain about things that others would consider to be blessings. We consider minor problems to be catastrophic, when others around the globe would happily trade circumstances with us and be grateful for the challenges we moan and groan about.
Consider for a moment how you can turn these situations into reasons to be thankful:
- Being stuck in traffic and late for work.
- The coffee stain on our shirt.
- A messy house.
- A sleepless night.
- A twisted ankle.
Is it possible? Consider these scenarios for the first bullet, “being stuck in traffic and late for work”:
- I’m thankful to be stuck in traffic and late for work because I was able to take a call from a friend who really needed to talk; traffic enabled me to take those moments I may not have been able to give otherwise.
- I’m thankful to be stuck in traffic and late for work because I was able to finish listening to that podcast or sermon and I really needed that message.
- I’m thankful to be stuck in traffic and late for work because if I’d been on time, I might have gotten a flat tire over that broken glass from an earlier car accident.
Sometimes, the problem doesn’t present an easy-to-understand opportunity to be grateful. However, if we trust in God, and lean on Him to lead and guide us daily—we start to recognize opportunities for thankfulness. And then, when my coffee spills on my shirt, I can be thankful that I have a closet full of other options…. When the house is messy, I can be thankful that I am strong enough to clean it or that I even have enough things to make a mess! When I have a sleepless night, I can be thankful for a comfortable mattress on which to toss and turn and I can also be thankful for the opportunity to spend more time in prayer. When I twist my ankle, it reminds me to be thankful for strong legs and feet, as well as the opportunity to slow down for a few days.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Yet, we live in such a fast-paced, competitive, greedy world. It’s easier than ever (thanks to social media) to compare our lives with others and wonder why we don’t have what they have. And when we start to go down that road, we forget thankfulness. After all, saying you’re thankful for your car seems weak when you look with jealous longing at your neighbor’s new luxury vehicle.
This month, I’m challenging you to make a list of things you’re thankful you DON’T have. As you pray and thank God for His blessings, take an extra moment to thank Him for the “No’s” to prayers, the circumstances you don’t face, and the things you don’t have.
Verse of the Month: 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Song of the Month: “Forever,” by Chris Tomlin
Recommended Reading: Crazy Love, by Francis Chan; Defined, by Alex and Stephen Kendrick; Jesus: The God Who Knows Your Name, by Max Lucado; Six Hours One Friday, by Max Lucado; Because of Bethlehem, by Max Lucado