A Thankful Heart – Again, Yes, Again

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Turkeys in our front yard

Turkeys in our front yard

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are several reasons for this. I love the food that is traditional on Thanksgiving. I love getting together with family and friends and sharing food and fellowship. I also appreciate that Thanksgiving is about being something as opposed to giving and receiving.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, and I am amazed and humbled when I think about all I have to be thankful for. Yet this year I can’t help but think of all those suffering around the world because of recent terrorist attacks.

How can we be thankful when so many are suffering?

Suffering is a part of our existance as human beings on this planet.

I believe God is present in suffering just as He is in times of blessing. We often associate thankfulness with circumstances, yet the Bible teaches that God is faithful in all things. Looking back on my life I have seen God’s faithfulness in the midst of times of suffering as well as when He blesses me.

It is not enough to be thankful, we must express our thankfulness to God. He alone is worthy of our gratitude for all that He has done, is doing, and will do to accomplish His will in our families and the world.

I recently read the book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte. The book recounts that during a period of utter despair, Chesterton “was filled with both an enormous sense of thankfulness, and an enormous need for someone or something to thank.” (p. 218) This insight caused Chesterton to embrace Christianity. He went on to become a critic and writer that greatly influenced the lives of C.S.Lewis among countless others. “The test of all happiness” he wrote, “is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (p. 221) The defining quality of his life as described by his contemporaries was JOY. Thankfulness leads to joy.

Last week I saw the following in a store window – “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy”. How true!

Psalm 145: 3-5

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. 5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Here the Psalmist is saying that one generation must let the next know just how mighty, glorious, and splendid God is! As parents and grandparents this is a challenge and a great opportunity. As we share with our children just how faithful God has been and how much He has done for us as His children, it will remind us of His work in our lives and at the same time, bless our Heavenly Father as we give Him the glory.

As we are thankful this Thanksgiving, let us remember to pray for those thoughout the world who are suffering in loss and fear.

Pray they will experience God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of all they face.

Thankfully Joyful

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Thankfulness leads to joy.

If you don’t sense any joy in your life – make a conscience effort to be thankful.

British writer and literary critic G.K.Chesterton said, “The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (from the book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte. p. 221) The defining quality of Chesterton’s life, as described by his contemporaries, was joy. Chesterton had a significant impact on the spiritual beliefs of a generation. That impact lives on even today. Chesterton saw reasons for joy in small as well as big events in his life and that joy spilled over in his writings and public discourse.

If we cultivate thankfulness for our children, despite the whining, diapers, messes, etc. , we can experience joy in our homes.

If we cultivate thankfulness for our spouses we will experience joy in that relationship. That joy will spill over to bless our children, grandchildren, and others around us. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to love our spouse.

Paul’s prayer of thankfulness for his fellow Christians in Phillipi is an example of how we might feel and pray for our families.

Phillipians 1: 3-9

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

May God give us eyes to see all we have to be thankful for.

Want Joy? … then be Thankful!

Phil and Gayle

I was married in 1975 during Thanksgiving weekend. That event has brought immeasurable joy to my life. I appreciate that our anniversary often coincides with my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving. I attribute much of the blessing of our 38 years of marriage to the fact that we are thankful for each other – warts and all!

From the moment Phil and I made the committment “for better or for worse” the better has greatly outweighed the worse. I am thankful to be married to a man who loves me even though he has seen me at my worst, and the worst is not pretty.

Is our marriage perfect?

No.

Do I always FEEL love toward Phil, or FEEL loved by him?

No.

As in all human relationships, there are many variables.
* feelings
* health issues
* stress from family, work, friends
* broken promises
* unfulfilled expectations
At any point these variables could have resulted in a severed relationship. Phil and I are sinful, broken people saved from our selfness by the grace of God.

So if I feel gratitude for my marriage and the years we have shared together, to whom am I thankful?

I am thankful to God.

People who meet us as a couple for the first time have often asked “How did you two end up together?”
We could be the poster couple for “Opposites Attract”. It is quite obvious to those who know us that our relationship is the result of God’s presence in our lives and therefore our marriage.

We know other couples who started out committed to God and each other and yet their marriages have not survived. I don’t know the explanation of why some marriages end and others weather the storm.

I do know that I am thankful for my husband.

The things that bless me about Phil now are very different than they were 38 years ago. One thing I particularly appreciated about him was his red hair. Now it is almost entirely white. (mine gets grayer by the day)
But the most important quality has not changed – Phil’s committment to God and to me. I am so very thankful for that.

British writer and literary critic G.K.Chesterton said, “The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (from the book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte. p. 221) The defining quality of Chesterton’s life, as described by his contemporaries, was joy.

Thankfulness leads to joy.

If we cultivate thankfulness for our spouses we will experience joy in that relationship. That joy will spill over to bless our children, grandchildren, and others around us. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to love our spouse.

Paul’s prayer of thankfulness for his fellow Christians in Phillipi is an example of how we might feel and pray for our families.

Phillipians 1: 3-9

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[b]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
May God Bless us with thankful hearts.