Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thankfulness {Day 1}

We are called to be people of thanksgiving. Now that doesn’t mean we need to wear our Pilgrim outfits all year round and eat turkey for every meal (thank goodness!!). That does mean that we need to have a thankful attitude. We need to not only be content, but thankful, for the blessings and yes, even the sufferings, that we have been given.
We need to remember key verses like:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds
{James 1:2}
…but, be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody
to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and
for everything to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
{Ephesians 5:18-20}
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
{Philippians 4:6}
And whatever you do, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
{Colossians 3:17}
Do all things without complaining
and disputing
{Philippians 2:14}

Oh my goodness! Count it joy when we have trials? Do all things without complaining? Do not be anxious? How can this be done?

The key is to remember the attributes of God. God is sovereign – which means He is in control of all things. God is good, faithful and trustworthy. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present. We can put our entire trust in Him for every single thing that happens in our lives.

So when that car with the little white-haired lady driving who is barely tall enough to see over the steering wheel pulls out in front of you (and you are already a few minutes late) – be thankful. Why? God is in control. You never know what slowing down just a little bit might be saving you from. A lesson in patience does us all a bit of good, as well.

When your children are running around the house screaming their heads off (either because they are happy, sad or in-between) and the house is a mess and your in-laws show up unexpectedly at the door – be thankful. Why? God is in control. Maybe Grandpa and Grandma will be just the distraction the kids need in order to obey and put their toys away. Our children, in good times and bad, are gifts from heaven and we need to remember that – even when they are not acting like “gifts”. J

When you have not been feeling well and decide to go to the doctor – and he gives you some bad news – gulp, be thankful. Why? God is in control. Even when the medical test does not have good news, God is in control. Romans 8:28 tells us that not only is He in control of all things, but He is working it all together for our good….even the terrible stuff.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Do you find yourself complaining about something or someone? Repent and ask God to change your heart. This is especially important if your children are hearing you complain. They will pick up on this and become complainers as well. I have been convicted so many times by what my children are mimicking.

Are you going through a painful struggle and having a hard time being thankful? Pray and ask God to show you what might be the benefit. Ask God to help your heart to change from grumbling to thankfulness. He can do that –and He will – if you only ask.

Sometimes it is easier to be thankful for a painful struggle when you are on the other side of it.

Unfortunately, this is usually the case for me. I have had some very painful struggles in the past 8 years. Some of these were direct results of bad choices (sin) I made. Some of them were not. I look back and am filled with regret for the sinful choices, but I am thankful for everything because without it, I would not be where I am today.

Do you ever say something and then a day or so later have an epiphany about it? Such truth can be spoken from our mouths, but sometimes the Holy Spirit has to work on us for a while in order for the direct application to be seen in our current situations.

At small group, I said that I was looking forward to future struggles and trials. I know this is the time that I am the closest to the Lord. I draw on His Strength and grow the most in my Christian walk. I have struggled in the past, but not very gracefully (full of complaining and sin). I am looking forward to suffering, but with God’s help so that I can suffer well.

Oh dear. Over a week later, it hits me. I am suffering, but am not suffering well. I have a current physical ailment that went from bothersome to actually interrupting life. It is interfering with the way that I can serve my family, my church and the community. But most of all, it has affected my attitude. I am not thankful for the affliction. I am complaining. I am frustrated. I am sad. I am anxious. I am mad. I think I deserve better (“deservitis”) and I am sinning.

I need the Lord to help me form an attitude of thankfulness – for all things. I need to ask Him to show me what He would have me learn from this time of suffering. How can this be for good?

Do you suffer in some way? If so, I would love to pray for you. You can either comment here or send me a private message at my email at drsiefker at gmail dot com.

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