Thanksgiving Day Musing: The Challenge of Gratitude

Here in the United States of America it is Thanksgiving. A legally mandated day set aside to express gratitude and give thanks. Being thankful is the order of the day. It is true that for ordinary day to day things it can be easy to forget to be grateful. We at times have to be reminded to count our blessings. It is important to not take those day to day and important matters for granted and to have and express gratitude. Sure, sometimes that may seem trivial and unnecessary so of is ignored but engaging in being grateful is good for overall wellbeing.
Now gratitude for the blessings is actually the simplest aspect of being grateful. There is a much more difficult challenge in having a grateful attitude. The real challenge of gratitude is not being thankful for our blessings. No, rather it is being thankful for that which is unpleasant. It is being grateful for harm done. It is being grateful for pain and suffering. It is being grateful for loss. None of those areas are where one is able to be naturally grateful. Gratitude in such events is contrary to our own inclination. It is very tough yet that is what the Bible directs of each of us. The Bible directs us to “rejoice in the Lord always”(Philippians 4:4) not just when I feel good about things. The Bible directs us to “Give thanks in all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20) not just be thankful about what is good for self. It is not be grateful for good stuff and curse the occurrence of bad stuff. It is in all things be thankful. So why does God gives us such direction? Be thankful about bad things happening, really? Wow! Pretty challenging!
The reason why God directs us to do so is it is taking focus off of self and onto God. No matter what occurs if the focus is being thankful the focus is taken off self. It is important to note that it is not really being thankful about the events, the good or bad things that happen. The thankfulness is something that is beyond what is happening for it is not about such things. Rather, our being thankful is about God and who He is. It is growing in awareness of the goodness and love of God. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.” (Psalms 107:1) Our thankfulness is about God, not about self. True thankfulness in all things takes one away from the ups and downs of life to the constancy of God which is always good. And it is with God’s aid that we are able to enjoy and endure whatever may occur for with God all things are possible. So, today, be Thankful, in all things, and where you cannot turn it over to God and ask Him to help you to be thankful: for God is good and His does endure forever; embrace it; be thankful!

Mother’s day Musing

Today is a day our culture sets aside to honor Mother’s.  It is a day that we lift them up and express gratitude for how they have nurtured our lives.  It is also the day that we lift up the women in our life who are mothers or will be mothers some day.  So today I first want to thank and honor God for my mother, my mother-in-law, step mother, and wife.  These women are all a blessing in one way or another to me. 

My mother:  She is someone who displayed in my life God’s love and nurturing.  She always did what she could to build me and my brother up in the faith.  She stood in the gap in prayer for both of us many a time. She prayed for the women we would some day marry continually starting from birth.  She dedicated me to God before I was born.  My mother was the first to suggest I consider the field of psychology based on my ability to listen to others.   The man I am today, I am in large part because of the nurturing and love she shared. 

My mother-in-law:  This woman is a gift from God.  Her passion for God is clear.  Her coming into my life through my life was a true blessing that not many men experience.  She is there constantly for my wife, even when she is thousands of miles away.  She displays everyday what it is to walk with God.  It is a true blessing.

Step-mother: My dad’s wife Janie has been a woman who has uplifted both me and my wife. She has shown perseverance in trial. She has been an encouragement when times were tough.  She is someone who has become a clear blessing. She means a lot to me and my wife.  She is a true witness that God works all things together for the good. 

My wife:  She is a true blessing. Some day she will make a wonderful mother and will display God’s love and nurture. In the meantime we grow and struggle and love each other. We continue to grow and prepare for what God has ahead. She is a woman of great depth of passion and cares deeply to the point where others pain and struggles impact  her. 

So I thank God for these examples of his intent when he created women.  Wifes and mothers teach aspects of God’s nature and love and it is true for these women in my life. So today I hold them up in high honor and express thanks to the author of love and pray that God builds them up and works through them even more to reflect that love.