Why I’m Thankful

Thanksgiving is the time of year when everyone posts on social media about what they’re thankful for. Often times, it’s the stuff they have, their possessions, that they are thankful for. The other common one is family and friends. There’s nothing wrong with being thankful for our possessions, for family and friends…but I wonder, how many of us stop to discern why we’re thankful.

So, I thought about it…My favorite holiday is Christmas. Because it reminds me of the why behind my thankful. The why behind my thankful is Jesus. He loved me enough to come in the form of a man, in the weakest form – a baby. He came that I might be saved…often times from myself. Christmas tells us the story of how He came, of the people who were involved and how hard it was for them. What we have in the Bible is only a glimpse of what they dealt with bringing the King into the world, of raising Him, of following Him. Jesus is my why I’m thankful. Let me tell you why He’s the answer to that question of “why are you thankful?”

He loves me. He died for me. He is my Shepherd (Psalm 23:1) and as such protects and guides me. He is my Redeemer and I join with Job in praising Him in the knowledge that He is alive! (Job 19:25) He won’t ever leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and because of this I can be content. He is my Provider, my Savior, the Lover of my soul, my Creator, my King! Nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39), not my mistakes, or my struggles, my pain, my joy, my happiness, my dreams, no one and nothing, good or bad, can take His love from me. If that isn’t a reason to be thankful, I don’t know what is. If that isn’t a source of joy, than what is? In all that I’ve seen and experienced (and I know I’m not very old) nothing gives me as much joy as my King, no one loves me more than the One who loved me first.  He is why I’m thankful for all I have, all I know, all I hold dear, all I’ve experienced…He is my soul source of thanks.

My King gave me a Daddy who doesn’t give up on me. My Daddy loves me, I know he prays for me, he let me follow him around. He supports me to follow where God leads, wherever that may be. He knows my mistakes and my issues and my dreams and my hopes, and he lets me learn from them all. He speaks when needed and loves so much more. He’s supplies what I need and sometimes what I wanted. He’s taken me on adventures and I can’t wait for those that come from my love of traveling that he instilled in me. I can never be thankful enough for my earthly father, my Daddy.

My Provider gave me a Mommy who trusts me and lets me learn. I’m old enough now to recognize that her rules were well-founded and I still carry many of them around with me. She always knows more about me and what I’m up to then I think she knows. She recognizes things in me before I do. She supports me, prays for me, loves me, and pushes me to be excellent in my King and to give my best in all that I do. My thanks for my Mommy will never end.

My parents are two of my biggest fans and encourage me when I’m ready to give up. They offer me wisdom, discernment, love, and prayers. They’ve done more for me than I can ever hope to do for them.

My Ruler knew I would need challenges and laughter and gave me that in my 4 siblings.

My older brother is my confidant and loves me fiercely and I him. I know I can always turn to him when I’m too afraid to turn to my parents. He’s my closest and dearest and oldest friend. All my life he’s protected me and tormented me in turn, but he almost never fails to make me laugh and to know when to keep everyone out of my way. We’ve been on crazy adventures that I’ll never forget and I hope to go on many more. I love my Big Brother and thank God for him.

My middle brother is my buddy and my nerd. He’s smart in so many ways that I’m not that I know he’ll help me when I’m stuck. He’s quirky and silly. His jokes and dances and songs fill my heart with laughter. Underneath all that nerd and silliness, is a godly young man who is developing in wisdom and discernment. He is the laughter in my life and my companion in school and I wouldn’t part with him for anything or anyone other than my God. I love my Middle Brother!

My youngest brother is my Teddy Bear. He is a source of comfort and understanding. In many ways, he is my “mini-me” we are alike in so many ways. He always looked up to me, watched my dance movies with me and my action movies and cartoons and Disney when no one else wanted to. He is a rock in my life, solid in our Heavenly Father and in his support of me. He has grown so fast and soon I’ll see godly young man in the place of my little cuddle buddy. I love my Youngest Brother more than words can express.

Last, loudest, most obnoxious and most endearing is my sister. She makes life an adventure of joy, laughter, and forehead smacking. She’s always followed me around like a little puppy wanting to be like her big sister. She never realized how much she has taught me. She taught me how to be patient, how to control my anger, and to remember to let people know that you love them. She’s blossoming into a beautiful young woman of God and I’m thankful that she’s here and that she looks up to me because it helps me watch my step. I love my Little Sister and refuse to let her go.

I have so many others to be thankful for. Bosom sisters (Anne of Greene Gables reference) whom I’ve met on this road who encourage and pray for me as I do them. Friends who are like family away from home. Mentors, teachers, advisers, and counselors who help me in so many ways. People I haven’t met who share their thoughts and wisdom that I see because of a friend’s post or a book that I’ve read. The possessions I have are just that…they break, stop working, rip, fade, etc. But they help me to grow in little ways. Hobbies, talents, and gifts offer me ideas of how I might live out my life to the glory of God.

What are you thankful for? What is the why behind your thankful? Have you thought about it?

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1) I can and do join King David in his proclamation of thanks to God. My thanks is not limited to just one day of the year, it overwhelms my heart hundreds of days many times over.

 

 

On Bitterness

Bitterness:
hard to bear; grievous; distressful; causing pain; piercing; stinging; hard to admit or accept; resentful or cynical (dictionary.com);
distasteful or distressing to the mind; accompanied by severe pain or suffering (merriam-webster.com)

Bitterness comes when you focus too much on the things that didn’t go the way you wanted. A failed relationship, an unexpected death, an unfulfilled dream, someone telling you that you can’t have all your dreams come true, expecting God to act as a “genie in a bottle” answering all your wishes and making your dreams come true. Truth is, God isn’t a genie. And sometimes we resent that He isn’t when we think we know exactly what we want and He doesn’t provide it. It’s okay to get upset every now and then, it’s okay to vent sometimes. What’s not okay is when we think about these “failures” or “vacancies” all the time to the point that we become obsessed. When you dwell on the bad things too much, they become like the clouds blocking out the sunshine. Every now and then happiness and hope peek in, but you let these worries, these obsessions, block the good out again. I do not believe this is what God wants for His children.

The Apostle Paul lists in Ephesians 4 the things to rid yourself of that you might walk with Christ. In verse 31, Paul writes this (NASB version), “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” This tells me that bitterness has no place in my walk with Christ. Bitterness, much like anger or fear, can suck the life out of you. It can drain your passion, joy, and peace. It can leave you tired (mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally) and leave you feeling empty. When your bitter towards God, you are unconsciously (sometimes consciously) not allowing Him to fill your cup. Bitterness towards God can lead you to not spending enough time with Him. If your not focusing on God and are focusing on all that’s gone “wrong”, where is your source of joy and peace? Where will your soul find rest when it’s weary? Where will you take comfort for your heart? What will you use to fill the emptiness inside? You can let your bitterness turn to anger. You can try to take comfort from all sorts of worldly things…alcohol, friends, tv shows and movies, music, your passion (even if you’re not feeling particularly passionate about it at the time), drugs, violence…the list goes on and on. Some of these worldly things (spending time with friends, investing in a passion like music, etc.) are good things…but eventually you start to realize that your soul is not comforted, you still feel empty, broken, restless. Here is what I’ve been pondering on. There is no comfort like that provided by God. His peace passes all understanding. He fills you when you feel like you can’t go on, He gives you strength. He grants you rest, expands your passion, gives you joy that can weather anything. But you have to welcome Him. He won’t force you to accept what He has to offer. The thing is, we have to trust that what He is offering is what we need and more so have the faith that He will provide what He is offering. Those dreams that your longing to fulfill? He knows about them. That test you failed? He knows and can help you gain the knowledge you need to succeed. That relationship that fell apart? He understands your pain and is there to comfort you, and maybe help you learn something from it.

I guess my point is this: bitterness can become an idol. By this I mean that it can take God’s place in my heart. When it pervades my entire life so that I can’t focus, so I get depressed or angry or feeling empty, it distracts me from my calling. Things like bitterness are shadows that try to block out the Light of the World. Overcoming bitterness is an act of the will. It takes lots of faith, trust, prayer, and choosing to turn to the One who loves me most, the One who can turn a bitter and hard heart into a tender one that is filled by God, directed by the Spirit, and follows Jesus.

I find encouragement in Hebrews 12:1-2b, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (NIV, italics mine) 

God bless and thanks for reading.