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.