Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to be thankful

This is a tough task, and nobody can do it all the time.  I know that there are many ministers who say things like, "be thankful for everything."  I just heard one say this morning that we ought to be thankful for everything, all the time, no matter what. This doesn't correspond with the reality that all of us experience. There are, after all, things that threaten to tear our insides out, so that we feel like we are losing not only our strength, but our very souls.  Must we deny our basic feelings?  I doubt it.
However, it does bring up a real issue:
How do we move from being broken over the afflictions we face (sickness, job loss, loss of relationship, false accusations, gossip, rejection, persecution, and so on) to being grateful for the blessings we DO have, and believing that God is still on our side?
Well, there are a couple things that we can glean from the Scriptures:
1.  Sometimes pain just doesn't go away, whether it's physical or emotional.  Death is in store for all of us.  It's for real, and we can't escape it. Sickness is the same.  Permanent poverty is the same way.  It can break you. For that reason, the future has to be our focus when we face this type of thing. John says to us, in the book of Revelation, that God will wipe away all tears from our eyes--there are sorrows we cannot get over in this life--but God will replace them with joy
(Revelation 21:4): And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 
The tears come from the past, and we are promised that the future shall be as different as day is from night. We live in the midnight hour, but morning is coming.
It's as the Psalmist says, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning"--especially the morning of our eternal future.
And for this we can be thankful.  Sometimes the present is pretty awful, but the future is ours, and it is wonderful.

2. Sometimes we can gain a thankful heart by simply praying. It's amazing how it works.  James says, "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray."  There is good reason for this, because the Psalms detail what happens when we pray, and keep praying.  For example, in Psalm 3, David recounts how he's being chased by his son Absalom, who has taken over David's kingdom in a coup.  He's running. He has no security.  His son will kill him if he finds him. David prays.  God answers, but first he comforts David, and encourages his heart.  David knows God has heard him (this is a common experience among those who pray--we sense God has heard, and our fear changes to faith).  Many times, we know God has already sent the answer, and we are moved to thanks because we anticipate what He's going to do.

3. We can also gain a thankful heart by thinking of the things we have, not the things we've lost or the things that are denied to us.  How much did you lose?  Everything?  NEVER.  If you are a believer, you cannot lose it all.  You will still have the Lord after you lose all your "stuff;" that's not to say you should be grateful for such a loss--but it's always better to look on life with a heart that counts the blessings you have, rather than the things you lost, or were denied.

4. And of course, when God does do things for us (doesn't He always?), we  be must learn to be thankful.  Jesus once healed 10 lepers.  Lepers!! Talk about huge. Leprosy was terrible! ONE of them returned to give thanks. ONE!! Jesus was actually surprised, and He said, "Where are the nine?"  Be the one, not one of the nine.

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