Be Thankful

I just returned home from a full day in Englewood with my mother. We ran some errands, had lunch and made a trip to Lakewood to see the grandkids and great-grandkids. The trip down went better than expected and the trip back to Fort Collins at the end of the day went slower than anticipated. All in all I still feel pretty good at the end of a long day. I managed to navigate around with my walker and for the most part that went well, as long as I had places to rest when I needed to.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am grateful for my faith and my family. I recall my doctor in the acute care hospital even mentioned the strength of my faith that made a difference in my recovery. I am certainly grateful for the answers to the prayers of many and for those who had faith for me when I was not even aware of the condition that I was in. My “family of faith” was very evident in my time of greatest need.

During my hospitalization the staff from nurses to housekeepers observed Debbie’s faithful attention and positive attitude. She is missed more by the staff and I am. Stephanie made many trips from Atlanta and Christian and Bridget were “regulars” along with the kids making visits and providing support as much as possible. Many staff members took note and some even made comments about their concern as to if they would have “that kind of support” if they experienced a similar situation.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”                  1 Thessalonians 5:18

We often hear the expression, “an attitude of gratitude.” That expression speaks of a general outlook or demeanor in life. Perhaps the contrast to this is “an entitlement attitude.”  This would be an outlook on life that says, “I deserve or am owed a certain quality of life, or treatment or ??? “ When we are thankful for something, it almost implies that we are thankful to someone.

It is certainly appropriate for us to be thankful to those who have made a difference in our lives: family, friends, mentors, pastors, employers, co-workers. But we realize that the greatest expression of gratitude is that which is addressed toward the our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. We recognize that He is the One who we owe so much to that our expression of thanks can at times feel hollow and inadequate. I think of a worship chorus of some years back that contained the words, “I’m forever grateful to you…”

We are a blessed people and have much to be thankful for. Yet Paul stretches the bounds of our gratitude when he says, “give thanks in all circumstances.” Really?! All circumstances? Paul is not one speaking from some kind of sheltered, protected lifestyle or history. Look again at some of his “circumstances”.

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure….”  2 Corinthians 11:24-27

Paul then goes on to talk about his “thorn in the flesh” which we know was a constants source of pain.

But I do notice that Paul says “give thanks in…” not necessarily for all circumstances. The key is that we can be thankful in the circumstances of life if we keep our eyes on the Lord who is above our circumstances instead of focusing on our circumstances. I believe that is what Paul would want us to know, because in responding to the Lord’s assurance of His grace that gives strength in weakness, he says, “…when I am weak then am I strong.” (2 Cor 12:10) Paul also said that he learned the secret of contentment in the situations of life whether good or bad,  “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

My take away…. If Paul could be thankful to the Lord in his circumstances, then I can be in mine.