Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)
Another Thanksgiving Day is here and you might think, “But I have nothing to be thankful for!” Honestly, I struggle with this thought sometimes. This thinking is most prevalent when I am having a pity party. Yes, even as a Christian I sometimes struggle in this area.
Life is difficult and full of challenges. Fighting the daily grind trying to get just a little bit ahead gets old and tiresome. Life has rough spots for everybody and it’s even rougher when viewed through a “Woe is me” lens. Life is difficult at different times in different ways for different people.
Some people have financial difficulties which may include finding a job. Others have emotional distress just trying to get through the day. And then there are folks who struggle with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and feeding themselves. At one time or another, we may all face each of these situations during our life time.
Personally, when I struggle with being thankful, God uses my quiet time, my wife, or a good friend to knock me back to reality. I look to my faith, family, and friends to defeat my ungrateful attitude. I realize I’ve got to take control of my affections. This is not to say the struggles are not real, but to put those struggles into a better perspective (though sometimes it is merely self-pity).
I try to look at the things I take for granted in the areas of faith, family, and friends.
- Faith: All struggles are essentially spiritual. My affections ought to be on Jesus where all joy and satisfaction is found. I am thankful for the fact that he gives me breathe and the opportunity to serve him. This life is temporary, what is coming is eternal. Yet, he blesses me with family and friends.
- Family: I have a wonderful wife and step-daughter. Of course, I would love to have the three children from recent years that we lost in the womb. But I believe in a good and righteous God who comforts and is in control of life and death. I focus on and find joy in serving the awesome family he has given me to love.
- Friends: God has blessed me with friends of whom some are closer than family. Especially, Christian friends who are there for me, and I for them, in times of need. And it is never too late to make new friends.
Faith, family, and friends are three big areas in which many blessings can be found for which to be thankful. While you may think, “But I have nothing to be thankful for.” Think again! If you are comparing yourself to others, you can probably find someone whose life is worse than yours. And your life can probably get worse than it is. Such thinking is unhealthy and can shut you down. Instead, drill down and find where you can serve someone else in those three areas above rather than thinking about how badly you have it.
While there are many personal examples, I will share one. I live with someone who suffers from chronic pain daily. She is my best friends – my wife. I won’t go into details, but I will leave you with this thought that convicts me to better serve and love her. She already suffers from chronic pain so I need to make sure I am not a chronic pain to her.
Grace and peace,
p.s. The above is to encourage and not dismiss life’s real struggles. If you are in the middle of a struggle, I pray you have faith in Jesus to get you through and family and friends who are paying attention so that they are there for you.
p.p.s. What are you thankful for?