“E” is for Everything – Giving Thanks for All

Giving Thanks for Everything Good!

And give thanks for everything to God, the Father in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NLT)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is now upon us as we think about the reason behind this holiday, newsletters and messages of everything we should be thankful for inundates my inbox .The one whose subject line really caught my attention this past week however was the message from Real Simple Magazine entitled “100 things to Be Thankful For This Year”. Curiosity abounded and so I just had to see if my 100 things would be in line with theirs and so I clicked the link and scanned the items. The list although mostly full of conveniences did redeem itself every once in a while with some relational attributes. They suggested we should be thankful for dishwashers, laundry machines, slow cookers, and Google among everything else but there were some mentions of hugs, family, friends, and friendly neighbors. I am not at exactly sure who they are thanking, for everything on their list as God is never mentioned once which brought to mind a quote by Dante Rossetti;

The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful, and has nobody to thank.

Now before you get upset and pen me a letter regarding my seemingly judgmental attitude please understand that I am not suggesting in any form or fashion that the owners, publishers, editors, or any affiliates of Real Simple Magazine are atheist as I have no idea what their belief system is I just found it interesting that they created a list of 100 things but never suggested who exactly we were to be thankful to for everything on the list.  It seems however that if we are to be thankful it should be considered that we give thanks to the creator of our gratitude and upon being thankful for blessings then God  should become our focus through no other motive than gratitude. As I am certainly thankful for my dishwasher, laundry machines, slow cooker, and Google too I would attribute God for creating these inventors and their abilities to create and design such modern conveniences. It seems to me however that upon the idea of Thanksgiving and specifically giving thanks to God should move beyond a list of modern machines and lie somewhere on a deeper level.

Thanksgiving should involve looking back to the past as it is only when we look backward that we can truly be grateful and identify the good things that have come into our lives. Our culture seems more obsessed with the future than the past as we appear to be consistently looking ahead and trying to manipulate or control what the future holds from retirements, vacations, where our children will attend college, or where we ultimately want to live when we just get past the hurdle we are presently in.

However when we give thanks to God we must look backward and not forward to express thanks for everything good that has come our way. It is easy to give thanks for the big things we see in life; health, wealth, and family but what about the little things? Should our attitude allow us to give God thanks for everything even the little things in life too?

Sometimes our attitude creates the perspective in which we see our life and that can prohibit our thanks for the blessings in everything. We should look at our attitude first to determine if it is distorting our perspective of blessings.

There seems to be three things that primarily affect our attitude that prevents our gratitude; pride, complaining, and desensitization of our surroundings.

Pride can affect our attitude on giving thanks for everything when we feel that we have created own our way or earned our keep so to speak. We, too often, because of this pride forget that it is ultimately God who has given us the abilities we have. And although we should take our abilities and work hard to create our way making the most of them we must realize that without God we would have nothing to start with.  If we cannot get over this prideful attitude we will not be able to thank anyone but ourselves for everything we have and that type of misaligned thinking is very dangerous.

Complaining about our “lot in life” can also have a strong effect on our attitude of thanksgiving. If we are consistently critical and full of grumbling we will not be able to be grateful for anything much less everything. There is a story about grumblers that I came across recently.

There was a woman known very well because of her constant complaining and grumbling as she complained about everything in her life. One day her pastor had stopped by to see her because he thought at last he had found something that she would be happy about, for her farm harvest this year was the finest for miles around.

He found her in the yard grumbling about the weather but still he approached her with a wide smile. “You must be very happy Doris. Everyone in town is saying how healthy your crops are this year. I recently heard them raving about your potatoes.” Doris stopped her mumbling about the weather for a moment to respond, “That is true pastor they are pretty good, but now I don’t have any bad ones to feed to the pigs.”

If we cannot find the good we will not find gratitude. Giving thanks requires being thankful for something.

The third attitude that often gets in our way of thanking God for everything good is the desensitization to our surroundings, expecting because it is just always there. It seems that sometimes we simply forget what we have because we are always surrounded by it. They say that if the stars only came out once a year we would stay out all night to watch them. But every night there they are and we just expect them so they really do not seem so special. It is often not until we are away from the familiar that we can appreciate what we are surrounded with.

It is easy to see through these three points how attitude gives effect to our gratitude. Perhaps though it isn’t so much the attitude that stands in our way of gratitude for everything we have as the perspective of how we see things from our position in time.

Several years ago an experiment conducted in New York’s Central Park by an advertising firm gave light to the perspective of how we see things. They decided to dress an employee up as a blind man and then send him out with a cup to collect money. They hung a sign around his neck that simply said, “I am blind”. The employee collected about four dollars that day. The next day they dressed him up again in exactly the same way and sent him to the same place but changed his sign that hung around his neck to say, “It’s Spring and I am Blind”. That day the employee collected almost forty dollars. The people who passed the man on that day realized how blessed they were to be able to see the beautiful flowers, birds, sunrise, and sunset. Their perspective changed on how they saw their own circumstances and realized how blessed they were.

How we respond to circumstances in life will often determine our life’s quality. This is why we should be thankful for everything we have and it is what makes having a heart of Thanksgiving so important to us all not on just this one day a year but all days. Giving true thanks for everything is a reminder of the gratitude we should have and the perspective that we must position ourselves from.

Alexander Whyte, a Scottish preacher, always began his prayers with an expressed gratitude or thanksgiving. One very cold and miserable day the congregation wondered what he would say, what could he possibly find to be thankful for. Whyte began his prayer, “We thank Thee, Lord that it is not always like this.” Attitude and perspective can easily turn every situation into a prayer of Thanksgiving for everything. Our focus verse this week is Ephesians 5:20;

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (NLT)

Giving Thanks for Everything, Period!

Giving thanks for the good things in life is relatively easy but what about everything? Everything in our life isn’t always good. Should we give thanks for the problems we share too? No, I do not believe that God expects us to thank Him for our problems but we should thank Him for the strength we gain through the problems as these are the blessings in the lessons. We know that God’s love will see us through all situations because He is good and all things work together for His purpose. Romans 8:28.

This different perspective will change our attitude and that will affect our gratitude. There are three things we can do to reach a different perspective of thankfulness.

First we can focus on everything we have instead of everything we do not have. This fosters a focus on the positive.  I read that if you want to stay positive in life and on top of things you must stay away from psychotics and neurotics. There is a big difference in the two.

The psychotic believes that two plus two equals five. The neurotic believes that two plus two equals four, but the answer worries them a lot.

So we must stay away from the unrealities and those that are consistently on alert and worry constantly about their reality as neither will lend an attitude of gratitude.

Second we can focus on everything that the grace of God provides for us. This focus of hope for the future is graciously provided for us by looking at the hope of the past. Hope comes in the form of God’s grace. The message of Christ should fill our life and give us the overpowering gratitude to share what we have learned with others. (Colossians 3:16)

Third we must focus on a regular practice of thanksgiving to God thanking Him for everything we have been given even for the strength that sees us through our problems. Charles Dickens suggested that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have three hundred and sixty-four. We could use that one day for complaining and griping and use the other three hundred and sixty-four to thank God each day for the blessings and lessons we do receive.

One of my favorite verses that remind us to thank God for all circumstances comes from Habakkuk 3:17-18 where we find Habakkuk expressing to God through song his thankfulness in his circumstances that are providing him strength.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;

even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren;

even though the flocks dies in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Habakkuk’s faith gives way to strength this is a Thanksgiving for everything. The attitude is easily achieved by the perspective of looking not at the difficult but focusing on finding the good for it is all around us.

I wish for all of you and your family not only the most blessed and happiest day on the celebrated holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States this Thursday but the attitude of gratitude year around.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Love in Christ,

E.J.

Post Script:

We have received too much from God to allow ourselves opportunities for unbelief. We have received too many gifts and privileges to allow a grumbling, murmuring heart to disqualify us of our destiny. In contrast, the thankful heart sees the best part of every situation. It sees problems and weaknesses as opportunities, struggles as refining tools, and sinners as saints in progress. – Francis Frangipane

What are Your Thoughts? Join Us in Discussion;

What are you thankful for? Do you express your thanks to God for everything? Do you limit your thanks for only the good blessings and not the lessons? Join us in discussion on the topic of giving thanks for everything or other related topics.

How God is working through your life?