Monday, 03 November 2014 17:49

The Blessings of Thankfulness

Written by  Nancy Thomas, LPC
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I always looked forward to family holidays as a child.  Our holidays included our large extended family of four generations.  My great-grandmother, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, friends and neighbors were a part of these holidays.  Our traditions of gathering together continue although the locations and participants have changed throughout the years.  I consider these gatherings as one of life’s many blessings and we value these traditions deeply.

Thanksgiving remains one of my favorite holidays. Living as a military dependent in Japan as a small child without the benefit of television, the internet, or even radio, reading and my imagination entertained me.  I imagined the words “Over the river and through the wood to grandmother’s house we go,” of the Lydia Maria Child poem, as written about my family but without the snow. I looked forward to rejoining the rambunctious gatherings when we returned to the United States.

 

As an adult, I try to remember to be thankful daily, not just on holidays.  By focusing on my blessings and being thankful, my perspective is more positive and I can see how God is working in my life, those I love and the lives of my clients. 

 

In Philippians, Paul instructs us to be thankful for everything and to present concerns to God who will in turn give us peace.

 

 

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Our sense of security must not rest in our possessions, power, success, fleeting pleasure, or things going our way.  As we gradually learn to appreciate difficult days and grow in humility and thankfulness, challenges will remind us of the opportunity to trust Him more. Thankfulness transforms disappointments into opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.  By being thankful, we realize the blessings we gain are much more valuable than what is lost.

 

Paul discussed his experiences with disappointment and discontent further in Philippians.

     

 

Philippians 4:12-13 NIV:

4I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

 

Becoming discouraged and being lost in negative thinking and peril predictions is so tempting without a thankful approach to life. Thankfulness does not deny the difficulty of the reality but instead rejoices that we have refuge, solace, hope and peace knowing that our needs will be met abundantly as they arise.

 

One of the benefits of maturity is we realize how faithful the Lord has been even when we were not practicing thankfulness!  Awareness of his faithfulness creates spiritual intimacy and major losses can be accepted in a positive and thankful manner.  When we practice thankfulness, grace abounds as the difficulties increase.

 

You may have noticed that others are sharing gratitude lists on Facebook and other social media.  Perhaps we should challenge each other to be thankful and share gratitude lists instead of pouring ice on our heads! Through prayer and thankfulness, disappointments are transformed into opportunities for ministry, and the sting from difficult circumstances is removed. 

 

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season? Perhaps that is a question that should be asked around the Thanksgiving table before praising God in prayer.

 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 November 2014 17:52
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