This past Sunday, I gave my kids at church 10 minutes to write down the things that they were thankful or grateful for. I also participated in the exercise. Afterwards, we all shared our answers with the class and it was refreshing to not only hear them express gratitude for things in their lives, but to take those few minutes to express my gratitude as well.
Of course there were some common items across the lists such as: God, family, home, food, health, transportation and clothes. There was also gratitude expressed for things that make us happy like: Starbucks coffee, Xbox games, cheer leading, music, our favorite TV shows and bubble baths. Then there were also the things that tend to get overlooked: the maintenance team for your apartment complex, best friends, education, the weather, God’s protection, intelligence, challenges that make us stronger, and opportunities to help others.
So often, around the holiday season each year, we all pause to give a “lil bit of thanks” to God for all the things we are grateful for. The bible teaches that gratitude is not only a powerful thing, but in fact it is something that is a part of God’s will for our lives as Christians. Let us not only “give thanks” during the holiday season but rather remember to give a “lil bit of thanks” everyday! After all, God’s love is evident all day, every day, in everything, all around us. We never have to look far to see the goodness of God in our lives. So often we simply allow the “not so good things” going on to overshadow His greatness in our lives. Lets make it a point to take time daily to give thanks and focus on the wonderful things He is doing in our lives – no matter how big or small.
Sometimes the hardest thing to accept is that God is NOT always going to answer our prayers in the exact way that we want Him to.
So often we submit our “microwaved prayers” to God, expecting our “microwaved blessings” as a result. Listing every detail of what we want or think we need. We want it ‘made to order’ and ready in the exact timing that we select.
We pray for a new relationship, asking for a specific type man/woman and then the person He brings us is the exact opposite of the image we crafted in our dreams.
We pray for a new job, and the job He blesses us with is something we never thought we would end up doing.
We pray for an opportunity to excel and He blesses us with an opportunity that is less than ideal but comes with a raise. Yet, we’re still mad because its not as big of a raise that we wanted.
We pray for a new car and someone literally blesses us with one – free of charge – but its not the exact make and model we hoped for.
We send our prayers up like microwaved suggestions to God, telling him how we want it, when we want it, and dictating the specifics of our blessing.
But He’s been teaching me that His blessings are sometimes going to come in ways I don’t expect, through people I least expect, and at times I’m not even expecting it. At the end of the day, a blessing is a blessing. How dare we be ungrateful, impatient and even complain when it comes. Remember God ALWAYS knows best! And sometimes He even has jokes lol.
Thanking God today because I’m alive, have an awesome relationship with God, and am at a place in my life where I can truly say I have found peace. The storms still rage on in everyday life all around me, but in the midst of it all, I am blessed to be able to enjoy the peace that only God can bring. There are so many things I can complain about, worry about, stress about, get frustrated about and even cry about…..but today I’m a peace. At peace because l know that I’m a part of God’s plan; that he destined me for a purpose; that He chose me before I was born; that He will never leave me; that He protects and watches over me; that He comforts me; that He guides me; that He listens and actually cares.
So yes, today I’m at peace, celebrating my birthday, because for 38 years my God has carried me through and loves me!
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Life may genuinely suck for you right now or at least it sure seems that way. But I’m learning that even on the worst of days to just be grateful for God’s presence in my life. Not for the material things, the job, money, car, or significant other. Now don’t get me wrong, those things are good too and we should be thankful for what we have. But most importantly I’m grateful for God and the fact that because of His presence in my life and the relationship I have with Him, that I can go through some serious crap in this life, but still be more than okay because of Him. When we shift or change our focus and begin to just give Him praise, spend time in prayer and thank Him continually no matter what is going on around us, do you know how much our lives will begin to change for the better? I’m not saying all the bad stuff, heartache, frustrations, and pain will vanish. But your attitude in the midst of life’s toughest circumstances and situations will begin to shift dramatically. Instead of stress, worry, doubt, anger, and bitterness, you’ll start to see things that used to raise your tension levels, become less and less of a “problem” for you. People’s harsh words and actions towards you, the car breaking down, getting sick, or your kids stressing you out, will no longer be “the end of the world”. After all if you look at the end of the verses referenced above, you’ll see that being joyful always, praying continually and giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s will for us. And just think, we are always searching for “God’s will” for our lives. Well this is one of several verses that tells us for sure what part of His will for us truly is. Just try it….everyday, even if for a few minutes, take time to just give Him praise, talk to Him, and name several things you are thankful for. I could complain and be stressed all day long about the fact that I had to deplete my savings for $1000 on unexpected truck repairs this week, or I could give thanks to God that I had the $1000 saved up in the first place to take care of this emergency!