Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thanksgiving is a week away!

For today, I decided to pull up one of my old articles that was published a couple years ago. Here is a link, if you want to check out WT online.

Otherwise, here is the text in full. Let me know what your thoughts are.

Having a Thankful Heart

The Scriptures tell us to give thanks always—not just when we feel like it. For most of us, it seems a lot easier to make demands or complain to God rather than joyfully remember all He is doing. Only an eternal perspective will allow us to view our lives in a way that always leads to thanksgiving.

Recently, one of my friends and I started e-mailing “thanks for” lists back and forth to one another. We wrote a “thanks” for washing machines, sunshine, hammocks, fresh strawberries, laughter, memories. The list could go on and on.

Since then, my friend and I have gotten out of the habit of writing these lists, but every once in a while, I will pray only words of gratitude to God. When I do this, joy begins to move through my heart and I am reminded again of how great our God is and how abundant His blessings are. Thanking Him for the ability to get up and walk on healthy legs and see with healthy eyes does a lot for putting my “bad day” in perspective.

In 1 Chronicles 23:30, King David commands the people to “stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening” (NASB). What an incredible way to start every day; what a life-giving practice to establish. Psalm 50:23 says this: “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; if you keep to my path I will reveal to you the salvation of God” (NIV).
The use of sacrifice in this text emphasizes an interesting point. Giving thanks is not always easy. Yet our praise and gratitude do not have to be directly tied to our emotions. Despite difficult circumstances and trials, we can choose to offer our words and hearts to God in gratitude. It is a discipline, a way to actively captivate our thoughts before the Lord. Often, our circumstances will naturally pull us toward discouragement, a complaining attitude and a lack of joy. But if we refuse to be passive in our thought lives, offering up words of gratitude instead, we often find that God renews our hope.

You can take a few practical steps to realign your thinking. When you find yourself dwelling on the negative, pull out a piece of paper and spend one minute writing down things you are thankful for. Nothing is too big or small for the list; just write it down. Take the list to God as a prayer offering, asking Him for the strength to think with gratitude.

Another idea involves your interaction with people. Most complaints come from the negative views all around you, so if someone hurts, disappoints or frustrates you, take that person to the Lord. Ask Him to give you the eyes to see them as He does, and then choose to remember all the ways that person has impacted, changed or blessed you. When you’re consciously grateful for someone, it is difficult to have a critical spirit toward her. Paul entreats Timothy with this request: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them” (1 Timothy 2:1, NASB).

Take the Word of God as a challenge, reflecting on all the writers who spoke about having a grateful heart. Remember that these men were not perfect, but they chose thankfulness. They decided to offer gratitude beyond their circumstances.

God often uses ugly situations to develop beautiful character within us. The next time you are confronted with the decision to complain or to praise, choose to focus on the positive. Take the opportunity to thank God for what He is doing and what He will do.

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