Thank you for joining me this week as I shared some of the things I am thankfulfor as well as my philosophy of thanksgiving. I enjoy writing, but I enjoy even more when people read what I write. I pray that I have been able to help and encourage someone in their faith in God.
At Thanksgiving, I often remember a time I didn’t have a working furnace. In the fall of 2010, I had 18 inches of sewer water in my basement after a heavy rain storm. I was told that I should have the furnace checked. A contractor came by and told me there was a crack in the heat exchange (which risks getting carbon monoxide in the house). This was the result of an old furnace (not the flooding), but it came at a time when I was dealing with other challenges. Those were tough days.
The flooding was late September. By the time I worked through what needed to happen, got quotes, picked a contractor and scheduled them to install the furnace – I was looking at a cold Thanksgiving. The contractor started the Monday before, but didn’t think they would finish until the Monday after. I was glad heat was coming. I was working through being patient for the rest of the week, when I found out they would be able to give me heat the day before Thanksgiving. Hallelujah! The contractor turned the heat on and turned off the space heaters that I had been running 24 hours a day for the previous few days. I was blessed by the action.
God blessed me with friends who were concerned. Sometimes even the guys acted like mother hens (I know – a horrible illustration for men, but I treasure the memories). 🙂
One other blessing at the time of the flooding that I want to share – I had plans that fall to buy an electric blanket. Not knowing how much the flooding repairs would cost, I dropped the idea even before I knew I had to replace the furnace.A friend of mine surprised me with the gift of a brand new electric blanket. That was an extra blessing in the days I was without a working furnace and provides a long term hug.
I am thankful for a working furnace in my house, a good heater in my car, and an electric blanket to keep me warm during the cold months.
As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving and Praise post, I have been thinking about a statement of thanksgiving. This has been on my mind and heart for some time. I couldn’t write this philosophy because of some life struggles over the past several years. I wanted to be able to be honest about the difficulties, but I felt pulled to live a Pollyanna type life – only sharing the positives and ignoring the negatives. However, I was struggling to deal with the negatives; ignoring them to “be thankful” wasn’t helping. I know that complaining is sin. I know that there are many things to be thankful for. Yet I struggled. So God kept teaching me about prayer.
As I prayed through the negatives, God gave me peace about the truth. The truth is that we will face difficult times. The truth is that the difficult times hurt. The stronger truth is that God is good. Always good. So my Philosophy of Thanksgiving looks at both sides.
My Philosophy of Thanksgiving is as follows:
I am not a spectacular writer – I won’t be selling any books. I just want to use writing to express my thoughts and hopefully help someone know more of the truth of God.
Most people will look at this and think of the freedom we have in the United States of America. While it is true that we have freedom of worship, freedom to choose a job, freedom of speech, etc., this isn’t the best freedom.
The freedom that I am the most thankful for is found through knowing Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that God created a perfect world and perfect people. However, those people disobeyed (sinned against) God and broke fellowship with Him. Read the book of Romans and you will find that any of us would have done the same thing. Because of sin, we had a debt that we could not pay. An eternal debt to God. Only Jesus could pay the debt. So He did. When I placed my trust in Jesus (because He pursued me), I gained the most amazing freedom (read Galatians 5).
I have freedom from the power of sin. Freedom from my pathetic whims and desires. Freedom to live in the best way possible – God’s way. This freedom takes a lifetime to discover and learn. I am thankful that God gave me this freedom and continues to teach me about it.
I am so thankful that God has given me many opportunities to learn. I was in good schools that gave me a quality education with a God centered worldview. My parents sacrificed to pay for tuition. I had the opportunity to attend a Bible college with professors who lived a God centered worldview. God has put me in a church with pastors and Sunday School teachers who desire to teach God’s Word as God intends.
Learning should be life long. We should never stop. The apostle Paul never did (Philippians 3:13). I pray that God continues to instill a hunger for the wisdom in His Word in my life. I pray that I can encourage others to desire the food of God’s Word. I will praise Him for the food He gives.
As we go into Thanksgiving week, I want to take time to say thank you to all of those whose jobs are specifically to support my safety. We have law enforcement, fire, ambulance service to help keep us safe. They do not have an easy job. I am thankful that they continue to work at keeping us safe.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, thankfulness does not pretend that nothing is wrong. We must be honest about what is difficult in our lives. Some situations just stink. Our issue is that we get tunnel vision and focus on the difficulties. We need to balance talking about the truth of both the difficult and positive pieces of life. If we understand what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ, I think we can much more easily find the positives in life.
Jesus gave His life. He suffered for us in a way we cannot fully understand. He suffered to give us the chance for eternal joy. Once we place our trust in Jesus, no one can take that eternal joy away from us (John 10:28-30).
So allow yourself to be honest about the challenges, but don’t forget the joys. God gives many good gifts (James 1:17). He gives us the strength of joy to make it through the trials.
I have seen “Grateful Thankful Blessed” on t-shirts, home decorations, screen savers and more. I enjoy the combination of the three words. Gratitude is a heart attitude. Thankfulness is the expression of gratitude. Blessing is why both should happen.
Life if full of difficulties; however, God is good. When I struggle being thankful – or I feel buried in the trials of life, I go back to the first way I learned of God’s goodness. I thank God that he sent Jesus to die on the cross. I thank Him for sending the Holy Spirit to convict me of my sin and show me how to place my trust in Jesus. Once I start with that, I can easily list several blessings. Christian friends and family, God’s Word, a church that teaches God’s Word, and the list goes on.
As I work through writing my statement of thankfulness, my mind goes down different paths. Too often, I think we fall into one of two ditches. Either we go about trying to think everything is peachy and happy or we fall into the trap of griping and complaining through our days.
God’s Word gives us several examples of people who struggled through difficulties and learned to balance hardship with praise to God. Many Psalms tell of pain and sorrow as well as hope and joy. Psalm 42 is one. The Psalmist shares his groaning, but keeps reminding himself to hope in God.
As I continue to work through how I believe I should live my life, I want to balance the truth of adversity with the goodness of God. Passages like Psalm 42 help me to do just that. Below is a portion of the passage.
Photo Credit: My friends David and Abby took this picture at the En Gedi Oasis in Israel.