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Archive for October, 2012

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophesies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

May I be transparent for a moment? I have been in ministry now for almost a decade and the one thing I still struggle with is the idea of “being thankful in all circumstances”. I say that as one pouring himself out, exposed and vulnerable for the world to see.

Please allow me to dissolve any confusion; I am fully aware of what it means to be grateful and thankful. My life is filled with situations to be thankful for. For example, I have no trouble expressing my gratitude for the good weather, for food on the table, or for the stranger whom opens the door for me when my hands are full. But it’s the second part of the equation where I struggle, expression of thankfulness “in all circumstances”. There are some things in life which I simply do not want to be thankful for.  I don’t want to be thankful for the rising gas prices, for the flat tire on the way to work, or for the fight with my wife on the way to church on a Sunday morning. Why and how can I be thankful in these circumstances?

Am I alone? Does anyone else share the same point of struggle in their walk with God?

I believe our failure to completely grasp the concept of thankfulness and gratitude comes from our attempt to relate it to our feelings. We find ourselves saying, “I don’t feel thankful” or “This situation doesn’t lead me to experience gratitude”. Instead, I believe, we are meant to express thankfulness devoid of emotional attachments. In other words, we need to become thankful despite our feelings towards thankfulness. When we move in this direction, our awareness of blessings and gifts of grace from God becomes evident and hard to escape. Our eyes get taken off our lives and our situations are put back onto the bigger picture, where God is God and he alone is in control. We are reminded of where God has lead us over the years, the times he has stepped in and protected us or our loved ones, and the many answered prayers I’ve brought before him. The circumstances we feel thankless for seem so much small and insignificant in comparison to the grace God has shown us daily. It’s in those moments we are left with only one response; an overwhelming expression of gratitude in any and all circumstances. It’s not about me, it’s all about Him!

If you’re like me, why not take a moment, close your eyes, and focus on the blessings God has given you over the last few minutes, hours, days, and even years. As the old hymn says, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

Lord, as I stop in this moment, distracted by the circumstances of life, please quiet my heart to reflect your goodness. Let me see the blessings you have brought to my life and may my heart reflect an attitude of thankfulness towards what you are doing and who you have made me to be in you. No matter the situation, help me be thankful in all circumstances, bringing you glory and honor in my actions and attitude. Amen.

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