Thankful in Difficulty

The year 2020 is not likely to be remembered by many as a happy time of life.  Difficulty is surrounding us, and uncertainty is our daily experience.  And there is not much change in the forecast for 2021.

In the midst of all the strife, disruption, sickness, excess death, fires, hurricanes, and political turmoil, there is a phrase that has returned to my thinking repeatedly.

“Overflowing with thankfulness.”

Now there is a curious phrase for you, especially in these times.  How many of us feel like we are overflowing with thankfulness most of the time?  So many people live their lives without much thankfulness at all, for anything. Yet if we have life, we have much for which to be thankful. Every day we are showered with gifts, blessings, supplies, strength, and wisdom. Every day we are experiencing the benefits of protection, deliverance, and care.  All things we often call “good luck.” For those of you who are coming to know your God, you have already understood that is often called luck is actually divine providence and beneficence.

How much happier, how much healthier would we all be if we focused on the fact that we are still alive and that our God is still at work in our lives?  How much more peace would we experience if we stopped dwelling on what we perceive to be disasters, threats, turmoil and disruptions?  On losses, set-backs, hurts, and slights?  Even in these difficult things and uncertain times we can find blessings and gifts if we look for them.

Colossians 2:6-7 gives us sound advice: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

“Overflowing with thankfulness.” Think about that.  How great would it be for us if we were really living like this?  Even our most difficult circumstances can be opportunities for thankfulness, for through these circumstances we are being shaped into stronger people.  Our character is being strengthened.  But only if we see the circumstance as the opportunity.  Only if we can stop fighting them and begin to work with them, with gratitude of heart and thankfulness of voice. 

Gratitude puts us on the path of growth, the path of healing, the path to healthier minds and emotions.  Gratitude places the issues that feed our fears into a more divinely-sourced perspective.  Gratitude lowers our blood pressure and lifts our vision.  It puts distance between us and our fears while drawing us nearer to our God and the great hope we have in Him.

We have so very much for which to be thankful. We are moving into a fall season that seems to be filled with disruptions, disunity, disturbance and even destruction. Yet gratitude and offering thanks to our God and to others is a gift we can pick up and use daily.

May this fall season and Thanksgiving season to come be overflowing with an attitude of gratitude and may that extend throughout the coming year.  We have every reason to be overflowing with gratitude.

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