A Thanksgiving Confession1
Well, the holidays are here again! Thanksgiving Day kicks it all off with the familiar pattern of too much food, catching up with family, and watching the Lions lose another football game. All in all, a good day.
I am not, by nature, a thankful person. I tend to see the glass half-empty. I tend to notice present deficiencies and the potential for things to go wrong. Maybe that’s due, in part, to my agrarian upbringing where things had an astounding capacity for going wrong. The unique blend of weather, animals, machinery, and people that make up farming provides countless opportunities for things to go haywire in a hurry. Like the time….well, I digress. The point is, I’m good at seeing problems, actual and potential, and not as good at seeing blessings.
It’s not that I can’t enjoy a sunny day or a great glass of wine. I most certainly can. But the cloudy days and the pervasive brokenness of this world easily dampen my joy and make gratitude hard to come by. What I’m trying to learn is the art of being thankful “in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It’s a learned skill and it requires learning to “see” differently.
My sense is that a deficiency of gratitude is rooted in an overabundance of self-reliance. You see, we self-reliant people have a lot to do. There are so many balls to keep in the air. So many very important things to accomplish. Gratitude is nice if you have the time, but self-reliant people rarely do. (Maybe that’s why they made a holiday for it.)
To compound matters, self-reliant people have a lot of stress. After all, if they don’t get everything done, it doesn’t get done and then…….well…… who knows what then, but it certainly won’t be good. What would people say? Even worse, what would people think? And so, busy, anxious, self-reliant people like us find gratitude squeezed to the edges of our life.
As I said, I think the trick to gratitude in all things is learning to “see” things differently. To look at life as though there were a Heavenly Father who ordains all things and calls me his precious child. To see things as if there were a King on the throne of the universe who orders every molecule with a nail-scarred hand because He loved me and gave himself up for me. To see things as if I had divine promises that could not be broken and gospel assurances that couldn’t be denied. The transformation from anxiety to gratitude comes by a mind that’s being renewed to think and ‘see’ according to the truth of the gospel.
The gospel gives us so many reasons for thankfulness. I was just reading 2 Timothy 1 this morning where Paul speaks of "our Savior Jesus Christ who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The words “abolished death” really caught my attention. I’ve known three men who’ve passed away in the past two weeks. All relatively young. My brother is still struggling with cancer. But the gospel brings gratitude even in the midst of grief. If death has been abolished in Jesus, if immortality is the banner over our life, there is so much to be thankful for! May the Lord give us the grace to be grateful as we learn to live in the light of the gospel!
In His Service,
What Pastor Dale is reading . . .
Choose to be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier
by Arthur C. Brooks
A timely and interesting article.
7 Reasons to Not Fear Sharing Your Faith
by Kevin Halloran
An excellent encouragement in evangelism.