Thankfulness – A Relatively Long Post to Start the New Year

A friend of mine Geoff Smith (who happens to have a very interesting and challenging blog called “My Blog” – if you go today you will see some interesting pictures of body builders at the top, but scroll down a little to get to more of his theological meanderings) recently made a comment on our post from yesterday in which he said “Good to hear that you’re able to be thankful for so many things.”  Yes we are thankful for many things, but I want to say it is a discipline, and not always a natural response to our situation.  Life has been a struggle and often hard over the past 17 months away from Texas.  When things are hard, I find that I am left with a choice.  I can either get depressed, disappointed, angry, frustrated, and start complaining.  I can let my thought life spin out of control toward the negative.  Or, I can look at our situation and pick the things out that are good, things for which to be thankful, and then be thankful.  We (our family) are fortunate, because there are always good things in our lives for which we can easily thank God.  But the truth is that in the Bible we are directed to be thankful for everything, good or bad, as coming from God.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  In Ephesians 5:20 Paul recommends that we are “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  In verse 15 which is the introductory sentence for the paragraph it admonishes us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time . . .”  What follows in the paragraph is a list of behaviors and recommendations regarding how to be wise, one of them being thankfulness to God for everything.  I am fortunate to be married to a thankful, optimistic wife.  I could attribute this part of her personality to her genes, or to her abnormally high serotonin levels, but I know the truth.  And the truth is that she makes a choice on a daily basis to be thankful which carries her on to her optimism.  If you are thankful to God, if you are attributing all to God, if you are acknowledging that God is on your side, how can optimism and joy not become a part of your character?  She has chosen the path of wisdom, and in our family we are encouraging this as a spiritual discipline, if not openly then in practice.  And so I come back to Geoff’s statement and acknowledge that yes, we are thankful for many things.  But it is a choice, not always a natural reaction to the situation and circumstances we find ourselves in.  But it is the path of wisdom, and so we follow it, trusting in God as we find joy and thankfulness along the way.

6 thoughts on “Thankfulness – A Relatively Long Post to Start the New Year

  1. Excellent post Will. It’s very useful. I’ve been trying to do the same. It is a discipline. Interestingly, one of the definitions of thanksgiving in Biblical dictionaries is to publicly acknowledge beneficence. In other words, its not enough or even required to just “feel happy about stuff.” But rather we must acknowledge that our good things come from God and are meant to point us to Christ. Anyhow, thank you for this and for the kind words. Sorry about the bodybuilding video.

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  2. Thanks for this entry Will. Last night, visiting with Diane Robie about the New Year ahead, I remembered this quote from Margaret Thatcher.
    “Watch your thoughts for they become words.
    Watch your words for they become actions.
    Watch your actions for they become habits.
    Watch your habits for they become your character.
    And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”
    Though it doesn’t match the love and power expressed in scripture, it is one of my favorite quotes.
    Loving you as your destiny unfolds.

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  3. Such a wonderful post — I am very thankful for all of you! You have characterized thankfulness well; sometimes we are apt to regard it merely as a ‘nice thing to do — an easy way to teach children to pray,’ but in reality, it is a powerful, very grown-up matter that is essential to spiritual growth. Perhaps it is only when we are challenged by less-than-perfect circumstances that we begin to understand true thankfulness.
    Love and blessings,
    Lana

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