How to Give Thanks When You Don’t Feel Like It

November 10, 2016

Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s that time of year where we as women want our nests called “home” in order. You know what that looks like, a relatively trouble-free household without fears looming in our future. After all, that makes giving thanks much more comfortable and satisfying, right?  

Yet, what happens when the kids, the relationships, or the bank accounts are NOT reaching an all-time high? How are we able to follow through with God’s command in His Word to “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Surely God’s not asking us to be hypocrites in our offering of praise and thanksgiving.

I used to think that life was filled with highs and lows. But I’m discovering another perspective that’s allowing me to be more stable in my emotional wellness and more equipped to give thanks when life hurts.

First of all, God’s Word did not say to give thanks FOR all things. That alone relieves my angst that I’m supposed to thank God for suffering that I might see in my own family and those around me. None of us can be thankful for the death of a child or a family torn apart by disorder. But rather, that verse says, “Give thanks IN all things.” That’s totally different.

I like Rick Warren’s analogy. “Rather than seeing life filled with mountain tops and valleys, we’d fullsizerender-5better serve ourselves by seeing it like a railroad track with two parallel rails – both going the same direction.”  Friend, it’s true. One rail carries all that’s going great in my life, like my health and the grandchildren’s tea parties. The rail next to it carries all my worries: things I can’t fix and qualms that won’t go away very easily. Yet, neither should come as a surprise to me. Jesus Himself comforted, “Pam, in this world you will have trouble,” and He also rejoiced, “Yet, I have come to give you an abundant life.” In my experience I’ve found that both trouble and joy travel simultaneously side-by-side on the track of life.

I’m discovering that no matter how good things are each day, there will always be problems to face, and no matter how bad things become, there will always be blessings for which to be grateful.  Much of our ability to live with a healthy perspective is wrapped up in the attitude we take when life does not go the way we had planned.  Take violinist Itzhak Perlman for example.

Itzhak once broke a string at the start of a Lincoln Center recital. Rather than replacing it, he played the entire concert with a broken instrument. At the end he commented about his misfortune, “Sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

Friend, maybe that should be our motto and prayer as we practice how to thank God IN all things this season:

Lord, I’m going to make the most out of any broken strings,

for who knows what kind of music You can make out of it.

 

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