I am not always thankful. It can be hard to admit, but there it is.
We are told as believers to “give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:16). Yet, more than challenging me, this verse often angers me. Have you seen my circumstances? Do you even know the trials and troubles I'm going through? The world around me seems to be spinning like a hurricane, destroying lives, families, and whole communities all at once. And I'm supposed to give thanks? How can someone just state that as a blanket statement?
Being thankful is hard for me. It is not my default action when I face or see hardship. However, I would add an addendum to the verse: "Give thanks in all circumstances regardless of how you feel.”
I have learned one thing. A deliberate choice to be thankful, whether in a bad or good circumstance, disrupts my wayward feelings and moves the eye of the hurricane over my life. Thankfulness calms my spirit and puts God back in control.
And that's the heart of it.
I need to not fear and to trust that God is still in control. I need to announce to my weary spirit that God has always been faithful and just. I need to remember and rejoice in the good things He has done in my life. I need to reset my mind to focus on God's intense love for me.
Thankfulness retrains my mind and attitude.
We all go through this. Read through some of the circumstances David went through in the Psalms. You can see this flip from despair to thankfulness in some of his most profound and beautiful writings.
Thanksgiving is a yearly reminder for me to rewire my attitude with thankfulness. To give thanks to God in prayer, despite my circumstances.
And I hope to learn one day to be thankful in and through everything I face.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes 5:16-18, NIV)
“But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:29-30, NIV)