When I was growing up we had a little plaque-type thing among the tacky souvenirs on the bookcase; “Praise God Anyway.” As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realise that in that simple, somewhat harsh saying, there’s a whole lot of truth going on. It tells me that no matter what my circumstances may say, no matter what the 6-o’clock news is telling me, God is good. All the time.
I decided that I needed to become a more thankful person. I’ve found that it’s easy to complain. The kids don”t listen, my wife doesn’t take care of me, people are always asking things of me at work, I’m tired and on it goes. Never mind that I wanted children who were full of life, a wife who wouldn’t be a subservient slave, a job that stretched and challenged me and a life that called me to need God! My prayers got answered and laments still came out of my mouth and my heart. I’m not a whinger whose always moaning, but I certainly wasn’t rejoicing in my life either. Basically God was saying to me that if I wanted more life then I needed to learn thankfulness.
Turning 40 this year was a catalyst to look at all that God had done in my life and through my life. As I reflected with God’s Spirit I felt my heart shift. I can sometimes get too future-oriented; “What are you going to do in my life Lord”, instead of past and present oriented; “What have you done in life and what are you doing right now.” I realised deep in my heart just how good God has been to me. Yes, right now, I have a beautiful family, a great church, good friends and a rewarding job, but the best thing is that I am deeply loved by the God of the universe and through Jesus I can call myself his friend and intimate ally.
By thankfulness I don’t mean trying to conjure up ways to look at the bright side of life. I mean asking God to show you the good things he has done in you and for you. Being thankful doesn’t mean there’s no place for lament or grief. Just look at the Psalms! The two sit side by side as examples of pouring out our whole life before God. Thankfulness is being honest about the good and happy stuff just as lament is being honest about the bad and sad stuff. Most of all thankfulness is an opportunity to have our eyes opened to God’s consistent faithfulness in our lives. So, what are you thankful for today?