Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beyond Counting Your Blessings

So, 'tis the season to be thankful. Everywhere you look, people are acting thankful. People are talking about being thankful. People are expressing thankfulness.

But you know what, being thankful, does not automatically mean we are being thank-ful. Being thankful for the good things is really just being glad that we are benefiting from those good things. But being truly thank-ful, is looking beyond our blessings, to the One who blesses. Being full of love for Christ, regardless of our blessings, not just full of thanks for what we have.

If someone were to ask me today to spontaneously list the things that I am thankful for, my list would probably be very similar to yours --- money, food, a home, clothes, family, jobs, furniture, car, shoes, friends, health, etc.

Each of those things are huge blessings, and tremendous reasons to be thankful, all of which I am very grateful for.

But is that really all there is to be thankful for? If we dig a little deeper, do you think we can we find any other reasons to be thankful, than just the ones we can lay our hands on?

And, what about those of us who may not feel like we have anything to be thankful for this year? Can we truly be thankful with our hearts, not just our mouths?

What about the millions who have lost jobs over the past year, had cars reposessed, had houses foreclosed upon, had children stray from the Lord, had marriages split up, received chronic or even terminal health diagnoses, had loved ones receive negative health news, who had to face the death of someone they loved, who still have not overcome fertility issues, who still have not have found that one special person to spend the rest of their life with, who have too much work to do in too little time, whose loved ones are overseas in the military, or who feels life is just overwhelming.

Maybe you can relate to one or more those situations,and if so, has the thought crossed your mind that maybe this is not the year to be truly thankful? Have you wondered if true thankfulness can really be a reality this year?

From our human minds, our candid and honest answer might be no. After all, who could feel thankful when everything seems to have gone wrong all year? Who could be thankful, when life seems to be turned upside down? Who could feel thankful when the negatives seem to be outweighing the positives?

This has been a really hard year for so many people, which is even more reason to be extra thank-ful this year. You see, if we can put a different focus on why we are thankful, our hearts will be transformed into one of true gratitude for what Christ means in our life, and this Thanksgiving, and all future Thanksgiving celebrations, could take on a whole new meaning.

Thanksgiving Day originally started with the pilgrims, who in the midst of extreme hardship, loss of loved ones, and minimal food and supplies, still believed that they were blessed. They chose to celebrate God's blessings, even though they were few, by sharing a meal with Native Americans who had helped them survive.

Are we carrying that same pilgrim-like gratitude in our hearts this year? Thankful for what we do have, as opposed to worrying about what we do not have?

It is so possible for us to lose our thankful spirit, when things dont go our way, even on Thanksgiving Day! Have you ever lost the enthusiasm on a thanksgiving day in the past because the weather was bad, the turkey was dry, the bread got burned, or the kids were fighting? I know I have been down that road!

But that is a prime example of how we are spoiled by the abundance of blessings that we take for granted every day, and have forgotten why we are really celebrating.

The best thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, is not the blessings, but the One who provided those blessings. I know, it is really hard to be thankful for difficult life circumstasnces, but we can still be thankful for the One who gives, and the One who takes away. Thankful for the One who has a plan and a purpose for our lives, even when we dont understand His ways. Thankful for the blessings of His grace, mercy and comfort, that pull us through good and bad times. Thankful for Him.

Psalm 100 is one of the great songs of thanksgiving in the Bible. It calls us to realize that we belong to God our Maker, and to praise Him for His goodness, mercy, and truth. If we cant find anything else to be thankful for this year, these are most certainly some blessings to be thankful for.

In Luke 17:11-19, we read a story of when Jesus had compassion, mercy and grace for ten lepers on the road side, and healed each one of them. But after He healed them, only one returned to say “thank you.” Only One recognized that He had not only healed his body, but healed his soul. Only one was compelled by so much gratitude, that He took the time to say thank you.

And only one heard the words from the mouth of Jesus, when He said, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

Now those are words that I would love to hear one day, straight from the One whom I am most thankful for.

Still need a few extra reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving? Check out this list of 100 Reasons To Be Thankful, posted on the Proverbs 31 site this week.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,

"Happy THANKSGIVING!!".....To you and Your Family.

God Bless
Rhonda

LeeAnn@Encouragement Is Contagious said...

Tracie,

I hope you and your family will have a wonderful and special Thanksgiving. You are one of the new blessings God has given to me this year. You've made a difference in my life. Thank you for being so giving and helpful to all of us out here.

His Blessings,
Lee Ann

Rachel B said...

Wondeful post, Tracie!! Have been thinking along the same lines. Just posted on my blog about being Thankful for Trials. It's so easy to be "thankful" when things are going well, but what about when things don't go as we planned? I am thankful that we can trust God and His plan even when we don't understand. I pray that this thankfulness will truly penetrate my heart and be expressed in my life!!

You are an excellent communicator! Thanks for sharing!

donnasfineart said...

Tracie

you have helped me so much by your postings these past couple of months. But of course the enemy is completely trying to destroy our family through every item you listed, jobless, nearly to the point of divorce, & your usual "Lord where are You" My husband, on top of his 2001 accident with his back, got an abscess on his behind from me giving him shots. The abscess was so large it was growing into his left leg. Of course the day before Thanksgiving, I mean we let it go for a week, we just thought he was going thru his back pain. Over last week he slept 16 hrs a day so I knew it was time for the ER. We went into the ER & waited 5 hrs before we were even seen! I kept praying with him & asking the Holy Spirit to keep him calm, I prayed for patience for me also. But God works in strange ways,he had such an attitude when we got there, "I'm not going to let them touch me unless I have a "Real" doctor not one of those PA's" well by the time he got in, his pain level had gone from a 6 to an 8..he told me "I don't care what they do, just get me out of pain" my heart was bleeding for him...well no details but the abscess was filled with so much mess, the pain meds weren't even helping....

He could not come with us to Thanksgiving in another part of GA calked Helen, so he told me to go & make the twins happy...I did go but again the enemy made our weekend as one issue after another, the phone calls from Mike, pain, pain, it was just one thing after another. I laid in bed Thanksgiving night & just cried out to the Father, "Lord You have sustained me in so many times of want & plenty, You have blessed our family yet Mike is always held back due to his pain & I have always been the Mom & wife who's everyones yells at when something isn't going right or Mikes pain...Father..I'm tired, I'm tired of living like this, sometimes I feel like no matter what I do I'm being tested all the time..Father I need You to show Yourself to me teach me patience, teach me to Thank You more every day even when the worst is going on. Father help me love Mike even when it's hard. Show me your ways as I live for You each day....."

I came home Friday to a man in pain but I knew God was going to change my heart...to be Thankful for life, for my family even when I feel they "hate" me & to realize that I may be hurting but our Heavenly Father is there just when we need Him the most. We don't want to be like the 12 that were healed & only one thanked Jesus. I know through all the pain I've been through He is the only way & without Jesus we are LOST!!!

I ask that anyone who reads this just pray for me..pray for strength, a job, but most important that our family stays together even when we want to give up, because giving up is the easy way out. Our Thanksgiving was great because I let God do what He needed to do, keep me in His hands...

Love Donna