The last couple years, I have participated in “Thankful Thursdays” on facebook. This is an area that I have come to firmly believe is necessary for joy, and an attribute that I want to develop into my quirky personality.
Thanksgiving is the key to a joyful and contented heart. How often I lose my key. Do you do this? Seriously, I know this works, I’ve seen it in action…yet I forget to be thankful, and am frustrated at my lack of joy. I want to have a joyful, contented heart; how easy it is to slip into envy and discontent if the door of our minds are locked to the joy that thankfulness brings.
Since I already have a naturally optimistic bent, you would expect that thankfulness would come easy for me.
While I am naturally optimistic by nature, I also am terribly idealistic, and I expect things to work out like I envision they should.
Yup. One of those.
Much of the time, with effort on my part, I can make things happen. But obviously, not all the time. I am bitterly disappointed when things fall short of my ideal, and I tend to fall (as Anne of Green Gables would say) into the depths of despair. How easy it is to slip into the devil’s trap of comparison, envy and discontent when the door of my mind is locked to joy.
There is a reason that I choose thankfulness to follow contrition and confession in my quiet time routine. After the confession portion of my prayer time, I tend to still be a little bit raw. Really, this should not be surprising, after all, I’ve just examined myself, and admitted my sinful thoughts, actions, intentions and omissions; that is, those things I’ve done and failed to do that have offended my Father. I’ve brought it all to Him, offered it up, and asked him to forgive me, and now…well…like I said; I feel a little bit raw. So, as I remind myself of His precious promises of forgiveness and restoration, and experience the grace that He pours through my broken heart, I begin to praise Him for:
- Answered Prayer – Those petitions I have brought before His throne, favors granted, and His provision, including those things that He has withheld from me, or things for which He has chosen to make me wait while continuing to ask. This part of my prayer time is a real hurdle while I’m suffering with my disappointment and impatience, but it is so necessary, for me, in developing the ability to follow Ephesians 5:20.
- His mercy that is new every morning – that is, His sparing me from the ultimate penalty of sin, and His faithful, steadfast love through the years. (Ps 25:6, Lam 3:23).
- Who He is – going back to adoration, and incorporating thankfulness…reminding myself again of the attributes of God, and thanking Him for all that He is to me, for me, and with me. (1 Cor 16:29, Ps. 34:7)
- My loved ones – family, friends, spiritual leaders, etc. (Eph 1:6)
- His grace and the indwelling of His Spirit that frees me from sin’s bondage. Because of His grace, I am not enslaved to sin. I have the choice to do what is right, and experience victory through Jesus Christ, my Lord. (1 Cor 15:57)
- The presence of His Spirit with me. I know He is with me when I experience the fruit of His Spirit in my life. I continue to pray that my life produces the fruit, evidencing that I am His child, and He lives and reigns in me…by faith…so that everything I do can be done in His Name and for His glory. (Col 3:17)
Thanksgiving does not come naturally, it has to be cultivated! Because I need frequent reminders of the importance of being thankful, the back of my divider is filled with Scripture reminders of the importance of developing thankfulness with an acronym of sorts of the word “gratitude”. I have tried to keep these verses at the top of my memory, as I work on this attribute…or rather, as I allow the Lord to develop this attribute in my life. I don’t have them all memorized, but reading through them in my quiet time has cemented their truths into my routine, and I like to think they are there for when I need them. As I’m giving thanks, I try to write something down in this section, so that on my down days, when it’s difficult to think of something to be thankful for (I can be a big baby, did I tell you that already?), there is a list of things that I can remember and thank God again. This is an act of obedience for me, so sometimes I need a little prompt….this totally works!