I think it’s interesting that we have a season and specifically a day (Thanksgiving) set aside to turn our minds toward being grateful. But then again I guess thankfulness doesn’t always come easy.
Like last year when my car conked out right on the other side of the Chick-fil-A drive-thru infuriating the hangry people in line behind me who couldn’t get their fast food fast enough. Was the honking of the horns and fist waving really necessary?
Or recently when I got a rejection letter for a writing job I really, really … really wanted. Oi vey! It was hard to feel thankful.
But when we dwell on unfortunate circumstances they only weigh us down. God knows this so He tells us in His Word to be thankful in all things and in all circumstances, even the hard ones.
“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Which is medically proven to be healthy for our body and soul but feels totally counterintuitive to the mind.
Granted God’s ways are opposite to our human logic but no wonder. Where as God is sinless and selfless we are sinful and selfish. But because of His selfless act of sending His sinless Son to die on a cross to save us (counterintuitive) we can now choose to have a mind like that of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
When we do, flipping the perspective on our circumstances comes easier and life feels, well, lighter.
A few years ago I started writing out a list of what this kind of thankfulness looks like for me. Each year as I continue to surrender my will to God’s, I add a few more perspective changes to my list. (I’ve added the new ones at the bottom.)
I’m thankful when I can’t sleep. It gives me a quiet space to pray.
I’m thankful for deadlines, because they teach me the discipline of time management.
I am thankful for regrets, because they remind me to seize God-given opportunities.
I am thankful for the problems that I can’t solve, because they bring me to my knees before my Heavenly Father.
I am thankful for humiliation, because it strips me of pridefulness.
I am thankful for the ability to laugh at myself and laugh hard, because it keeps me from being too serious.
I am thankful for struggles because they help me reach forward toward my full potential.
I am thankful for my weaknesses because in them God shows me His strength.
I am thankful for hurt feelings because through them I am better able to comfort others who have been in similar situations.
I am thankful for conviction because it brings me to repentance.
I am thankful for my failure because that’s how I learn to succeed.
I am thankful in grief because God is close to a broken heart.
I am thankful for the scars of past sins because they remind me not to go there again.
I’m thankful for the tooth I cracked last year because with God’s help, I overcame my fear of going to the dentist.
I’m thankful for my car breaking down in the middle of the Chick-fil-A drive thru. It taught me that impatience breeds impatience and kindness opens the door for mercy.
I’m thankful for dirty dishes and stinky laundry because it reminds me I have food to eat and clothes wear.
I’m thankful when I have to wait on God for answers because it strengthens my faith muscles and adds fuel to my testimony.
I’ve learned this year I can be thankful for rejection letters because they make me tougher and help me examine where I might need to improve.
And I’m thankful for sore muscles and joints. They remind me I’ve played hard and my body has served me well.
On this side of eternity, we will never fully view this life from the angle God does. But as we pray and study His Word, learning to trust Him–truly trust Him–we can begin to see how His ways actually make sense, and then thankfulness in everything will come as naturally as taking a breath.
And when this happens, we won’t need a special day to turn our minds to giving thanks anymore. Everyday will be Thanksgiving.