As Christians, we have a lot to be thankful for. As Americans, we have a lot to be thankful for. There are people in this world who don’t have it easy. We know the love of an amazing God. We have grace and forgiveness. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. And we live in a place where we are allowed to have our beliefs, hold our own opinions, and make our own choices. We are a blessed people.
But some days, we can’t seem to give thanks for the things we have. We look around and all we can see are things we don’t have or the things that aren’t going our way. We see others getting the things they want- the dream job, the relationship, the financial freedom, the unexpected gifts from those around them- and we don’t understand why we aren’t getting the things we want. The things we pray for. The things we “need.”
Why aren’t things going our way for once?
We are told to rejoice in all things. We are to give thanks always to our loving Father. We are to praise Him and worship Him regardless of our circumstances. No matter how our life is going, we are told to be grateful for we are blessed.
I don’t always feel blessed. Sometimes I feel the opposite of blessed- unblessed? cursed? Either way, I find it easier to look around at my life, take stock of my situation, and see all the things I’m missing; all the things I don’t have. I sign into my email and see message after message about my school loans and bills. I sign into Facebook and see all the engaged couples, the newly married couples, the lovely growing families. I text my friends and hear about their professional success, the places they are traveling to, the experiences they’ve had. And on some level, I’m so very happy for them. I don’t wish bad things upon them.
But why can’t I have that, too? Why haven’t I had my chance to experience all the things my friends and family have? Is it because I don’t believe enough or pray enough? Is it because of the mistakes I’ve made? Am I living some modern-day version of Job’s story and things are just going to keep getting worse before they get better?
We think we deserve things in this life, that we are owed things. But the truth is in many ways we aren’t. We don’t even deserve the love or grace or mercy of our amazing Father, but He has given them to us nonetheless. He has gifted us with a blessed life. He doesn’t have to. He could withhold everything from us, every happy moment, every lovely memory, every peaceful day. He could remove Himself from our lives, from our world completely. He could leave us to ourselves.
Whenever I think about being thankful, two worship songs come to mind:
The first says, “And I’ll sing because You are good. And I’ll dance because You are good. And I’ll shout because You are good. You are good to me.”
Giving thanks, being thankful isn’t just about praising God for the things we have, for what He provides and how He blesses us. Being thankful is just about praising God. It’s about praising God for simply being God. For God is good. He is great. He is absolutely amazing. And I often forget to be thankful for His presence.
Because no matter how terrible my life seems, how discontent I may feel, how unblessed I believe I am, I will always be able to bask in God’s presence. I will always be filled with His Spirit. I will always have His grace and mercy. I will always be saved in Christ. My Father is good to me. And if that isn’t something I can be thankful for, I’m doing life wrong.
The second song says, “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name.”
Being thankful is a choice. It isn’t always easy. At some point in our life, we will find ourselves in a situation that leaves us broken, used, and downtrodden. We will feel as if we are in an abyss of darkness, alone and unloved. We will be oppressed by sin, distressed by tragedy, or restless with discontent. And our first thought in the midst of the turmoil isn’t going to be to give thanks to God, to praise His name. How could we possibly be thankful? Why would we want to be?
So we choose not to praise God, not to worship Him, not to give thanks. We choose to walk it alone. We deny ourselves the only thing that could light up our dark days.
I’m learning to give thanks in the midst of my sorrows. To worship God despite my frustration. I’m learning that being a Christian doesn’t mean life is simple, that every prayer will be answered instantly in the way that I want, that I will get everything I ask God for. I’m learning that I wasn’t created to live an easy life. I was created to glorify God, to worship Him always, to give thanks for Him. I’m learning that being thankful isn’t something I do because God gives me what I want, but something I do in spite of it. Being thankful is something I choose to do.
And what better way to get through the tough times than to bask in the amazing wonder that is our God; to worship His blessed name and be thankful that we can, that we are His, and that He is good. Because the truth is that even when we aren’t thankful, there is always something we can be thankful for.
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