And now that we're experiencing the benefits of thanksgiving, we can better understand why God tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He wants us to give thanks because He knows we benefit from it.
Remember how I told you I was haunted by 1 Thessalonians 5:18 because it tells us to give thanks in ALL circumstances? Well, my hubby gave me a new way to think about this verse... one that makes the "all" a little bit easier to digest. Are you ready for this? He pointed out another small word. He reminded me that the verse tell us to give thanks "in" all circumstances, not "for" all circumstances. Aha! So when I had my toilet trouble, while I was not excited "for" the sewage mess, I was thankful "in" the circumstance by recognizing my rug didn't get contaminated, I had a plunger and paper towels combined with bleach to clean up the mess, and my house didn't stink as a result of the sewage pooling on the floor. Isn't it amazing how one word can change your perspective?
While this new perspective based on the word "in" is helpful, there are lots of life experiences that make it super difficult to choose thanksgiving. Like how can you be thankful when your loved one is dying? Or when your child is sick? Or when you desperately want to be married, but the right mate hasn’t come along yet? Or when the pregnancy test is negative again? Or when someone hurt you really bad? Or when…. You fill in the blank….
We are still called to be thankful when we are going through trails. But thankfulness during trails calls for something different – something called “gracious gratitude” according to the American Theologian Jonathan Edwards. Gracious gratitude occurs when we focus on praising God for WHO HE IS rather than just thanking Him for how He blesses us. Gracious gratitude is all about focusing on God’s character. To learn more about gracious gratitude, check out the article that houses the information you just read: Radical Gratitude: Grateful to God in Tough Times by Chuck Colson. Here's a link to the article: http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/17365
I’ve found gracious gratitude, or focusing on God's character, to be a powerful tool in my prayer life. When I’m struggling or frustrated, I’m learning to pray scriptures about Who God Is to remind myself that God is so much bigger than my trial and I just need to trust in Him. Here’s some scriptures that can help us focus on gracious gratitude…
Thank you, Lord that you are close to the brokenhearted and you save those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Thank you, Father God, that you can turn my wailing into dancing; and that you can remove my sackcloth and clothe me with joy just like you did with David in Psalm 30:11.
Thank you, Father God, that nothing is impossible with you. Luke 1:37
Thank you, Lord, that you can do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20
Thank you, Lord, that you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. Psalm 103:8
Thank you, God, that you can deliver me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
Thank you, Father God, that you can work all things for the good of those who love you, who have been called according to Your purpose. Romans 8:28
Christmas can be so tough based on your circumstances... whether circumstances from your past or something going on in the present. So many people hurt, struggle, and mourn behind the scenes. Focusing on God's promises during these difficult times can bring hope in the midst of trails. My prayer is that you experience God in amazing ways as you choose gracious gratitude in your circumstances.
Today, I am thankful for...
1. Potty trained boys that can use the bathroom in the middle of the night without help
3. God working behind the scenes to fulfill His plans
4. My three year old's delight over a trucker seeing him pumping his fist and therefore, honking his horn in return
5. Girl time
6. A surprise gift and touching card
7. Listening ears
8. Wise counsel
9. Talking things through with others
10. Rain drops on the window that looked like shooting stars
11. The amazing things a three year old can create decorate with a tape measure
12. My mom's yummy queso chicken for dinner
13. My mom loving us so much that she has us over for dinner each week - so blessed by this!
14. Marshmallow World by Francesca Bastistelli
15. Getting something checked off my To Do List... ah, relief!
Here's to 10,000 reasons... Only 6,346 to go...