Tag Archives: thankful

30 Days of Thankful: Day 26

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NKJV).

Giving thanks to God can diffuse even life’s most difficult circumstances. Gratitude has a healing power all its own. I have seen this over and over in our decades of ministry as we have come alongside people during their times of trial. I’ve watched praise and thanksgiving emerge from those walking through the worst of tragedies—clear evidence that God is providing supernatural strength and comfort.

But I’m learning the value of giving thanks all over again while spending much of the last few days in the trauma unit of our local hospital. This time I’m not here as a caregiver, but as a family member.  My younger sister, while battling an illness,  sustained a head injury in a fall and has been fighting for her life. Some of you have walked this journey yourself. There’s lots of watching and waiting and praying at a time like this.

Since we are going through our 30 Days of Thankful, I’ve chosen to begin each difficult morning thanking God for what He is doing and will continue to do in this situation. I’ve also been watching for evidence of His work, jotting down each little sign of hope—however tiny—in my journal.

There have been many. Like the kind custodian who assured me that God was “in control” and then, looking over at my comatose sister, said with conviction, “She’s going to be all right.” Or the beautiful chaplain with a Middle Eastern background whose family had once smuggled Bibles into her closed country. What a special time of prayer we had together. Or the beautiful garden I discovered—a nice spot to have lunch in the bright October sunshine; and the beautiful walking trail just outside the hospital; the friends who dropped by at just the right moment to pray for my sister. The list goes on. We have a long road ahead of us—but today, I have hope. And I am thankful.

Life here on planet Earth is full of these kind of laboratory experiments…opportunities to take God at His Word. It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn us: I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] (John 16:33 AMP).


30 Days of Thankful: Day 25

If you’ve ever wanted to know whether God is in the details, you’ll be inspired by my friend Allie’s adoption story.  I hope her words encourage you to reflect–and  give thanks–for the times you’ve experienced God’s guidance in your own life.

GUEST BLOG: Allie Osman

Throughout our journey of adopting our two-year-old son Peter, God repeatedly reminded me that as we follow His will and allow Him to order our steps, He is in control. For that I am filled with thankfulness.

God was in control of every part of the process: the timing, communications with agency personnel and doctors, the administrative paperwork, all the details. He chose Peter, cared for him, and delivered him into our arms. On so many occasions during the time-sensitive process, I stressed over the administrative details, about whether certain meetings would take place on time, about whether I’d be able to communicate with certain people, about whether I’d be able to find out critical information. What God showed me over and over again was that He is with me and the adoption was in His hands. He always provided what we needed when we needed it.

Right before Thanksgiving 2014, we were officially matched with Peter by the adoption agency months sooner than expected. Then, in February 2015, we were issued our Letter of Approval (LOA) from the Chinese government authorizing us to adopt Peter. We were told the average time frame for a family to receive an LOA is two to four months after Log in Date (when the Chinese upload into their system a family’s Letter of Intent to adopt a specific child).

We had been praying that we would receive our LOA in two months. Not only did God provide, but He provided abundantly. We were issued our LOA five days before the two-month mark! Then, our agency said we would most likely receive the remainder of our documentation from the Chinese government in time to travel to China to bring Peter home in June. We prayed that we would travel in May, bringing Peter home as soon as possible. Yet again, God’s timing prevailed and we had Peter in our arms May 11, 2015. All evidence that God was driving this adoption.

In the five months since we brought Peter home, God has blessed us over and over again with Peter’s health and development. Each medical test has yielded perfect results. He is in excellent health and is developmentally delayed simply as a result of institutionalization, which he will overcome over time.

Peter’s rapid physical and motor progress reminds us daily of God’s blessings and His provisions. Although Peter is almost three years old and not yet speaking, he is demonstrating great progress with comprehension and some progress with making sounds. We have no doubt that he will learn to talk in God’s timing. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness and we praise the Lord for bringing this sweet, lovable little boy into our family.


30 Days of Thankful: Day 23

My friend Leslie’s beautiful transparency challenge me to realize that a thankless heart is no small thing. Her words inspire me to be ruthless with those things in my life that get in the way of a thankful heart!

GUEST BLOG: By Leslie Long

Recently I was reading in Genesis 3. I watch the serpent lead Eve into doubts about God and what He really commanded her and Adam not to do. Once she is thoroughly distracted with desire, Satan convinces Eve that if she eats the fruit of the forbidden tree, she will actually become like God.

The couple, unlike the serpent, had been made in the image of God. Adam and Eve were already like God! Satan’s play at tempting Eve to get the only thing God withheld caused her to stumble. She forgot that she already had something far better than what Satan was offering. I imagine God giving Eve the world, and with a thankless, calloused heart, she refuses it and demands more.

It’s as if I’m looking into a mirror and find that so it is with me. I’ve come to learn that I simply cannot give thanks or live in joy when my heart is ravaged with discontentment.

Satan gives voice in my own heart to the lies he told Eve thousands of years ago and I stumble into my old ways, forgetting the good gifts given to me. Instead of giving thanks, I turn my nose up to what my Father has offered and implore He give me more.

If only my marriage were easier, I’d praise you more. If you made me look like her, I’d have no problem being joyful. If I didn’t struggle with anxiety, then I’d be free. If you made my calling clear, then I would be more advanced in my career. This is the hard, honest truth of my childish heart. I hardly notice the treasure He has laid before me because I, like Eve, am distracted by Satan’s devices.

But what about the unseen good gifts of refining that God did through a tough first year of marriage? Or in the battle with self-image? Or in trusting Him with my anxiety? What about the beauty He may create there? Isn’t that the gift He promises? To be with us through the trial, continuing His work in us?

I’m too busy being discontented to see that these are the things He is calling me to be thankful for! And the truth hits me: This life is about God’s glory, not my ease and happiness. In His kindness, He is drawing me near and through these hard things and by His grace, I’m finding out who He really is.

He goes even further and creates such rich eternal beauty in me. Had he catered to my pleas and removed me from these hard places, I wouldn’t experience this newness in intimacy with the Lord.

In her foreword to the book, Choosing Gratitude, Joni Eareckson Tada writes, “I give God thanks in my wheelchair…I’m grateful for my quadriplegia. It’s a bruising of a blessing. A gift wrapped in black. It’s the shadowy companion that walks with me daily, pulling and pushing me into the arms of my Saviour. And that’s where the joy is…”

These days, God’s kindness in the midst of my sin leads me to repentance. I find myself saying a simple prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to do what I cannot: “Please, Lord, help me to trust when I cannot see. Will you help me remember you have given me exactly what I need? Would you create a more thankful heart in me?  And when it is hard to see, I pray to remember the beauty into which you’ve folded and encompassed me: covered in righteousness, lavished with grace, claimed as beautiful daughter with a strong eternal Hope waiting beneath every fear, concern and struggle- like a rush of relief that reminds, this is not the end of the story!” Thank God.

 


30 Days of Thankful: Day 21

Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. Another observation during 30 Days of Thankful. We have to teach our children to be thankful, so it makes sense that God teaches it to us. In the Old Testament, He even created rituals and celebrations to teach His people how to give thanks.

Giving thanks is not so much for God’s benefit, though I am sure it warms His heart as it does any good parent when their children show gratitude. He doesn’t need our thankfulness to be God. But God knows that thankful people are better people. They are also happier and healthier.

We’ve talked about the emotional and physical blessings that come when we’re thankful. But there’s more: When you grasp the concept of giving thanks to God, you’re beginning to grasp something much more powerful—His grace. I hope you’ll see the connection here.

Our word “grateful” comes from an old English word, “grate” which means “thanks.” The word grateful is also loosely related to the word grace.

But the Bible connection between grace and thankfulness is much stronger.  Grace is defined as the “gift or blessing brought to mankind by Jesus Christ, favor, gratitude, thanks, a favor, kindness.” The Greek word commonly translate as “grace” is charis.

Charis is also one of several words in the New Testament translated as “thank.” Here are a couple of examples where charis conveys thankfulness:

“I thank [charis] God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3 NIV).

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude [charis] in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NIV).

Charis doesn’t just communicate thankfulness.  Charis–or grace–is the very substance of our salvation. Ephesians 2:8 says it strongly: “For it is by grace [charis] you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…(Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

How exciting to think that as we practice gratitude, we also breathe new life into our understanding of God’s amazing grace!

So let’s continue to be thankful. And remember, it requires something of a fight for us to walk in God’s grace in this broken, and sometimes hostile, world. As Peter reminded a church that was being heavily persecuted: ‘This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it (1 Peter 5:12 NIV).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


30 Days of Thankful: Day 18

Whoever said these words got it right: “It’s hard to be thankful for something you think you deserve.” The world is full of people who believe that their parents, siblings, school, job, God, or society owe them something.   This can sometimes occur when a person feels they’ve experienced more than their fair share of hardship. Such was not the case with my friend Becky.

No doubt Becky had suffered throughout her life. She had been born with a handicap that left her with a stature of just under 4 feet tall. But I forgot about her disability the minute I met her. Becky’s face was beautiful—but it was her regal grace, her cheerfulness, and her kindness to others that I most remember. I have only a dim memory of her humped back and deformed legs. It was Becky’s inner strength and trust in the Lord left me wanting to know her secret.

I was in my early twenties at the time—just a young bride. Becky was married, too, and well into her forties. This was long before breakthroughs in physical therapy and special accommodations for the disabled would have made life a little easier for her. I couldn’t imagine how she could have grown up with so little self-pity and such a rock solid faith in God. Part of the reason was her thorough knowledge of Scripture—she was one of the best Bible teachers I’ve ever known.

But as I got to know Becky better, I learned that her thankful spirit was also due to the way her wise, godly parents had raised their handicapped daughter. “If my mother and father ever noticed that I didn’t seem thankful for the blessings I had, or if my attitude became selfish, they’d tell me that I must have too many blessings,” she explained with a smile. “So they’d cut back on gifts and privileges for a while until I showed a little more gratitude for what I had.”

I’ve sometimes wondered if God notices when I struggle with being thankful or when I feel entitled. Is He anything like Becky’s wise and loving parents who refused to encourage self-pity in their disabled daughter? Becky’s words have remained with me all these years—I can almost hear her gently warning me not to take the blessings of this life for granted.

No doubt, she’d also point me back to the Bible and remind me to “ rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).