When asked to write on thankfulness I wrestled to say yes because I am not thankful today. Actually it’s been quite a few days that I have been struggling to be thankful. And this is not the first time throughout life’s sufferings. When I was given significant harsh news this week, it dampened my spirit, deeply.
Where does thankfulness fit into that?
I thought back to the time when I started my gratitude journal. The first entry quoted a Bible verse: “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to the one who orders His way rightly, I will show the salvation of God.”
And, ” My sacrifice, O God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. You God, will not despise.”
The entry went on with me crying out to God. “God, I am not thankful. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. I am thankful for nothing.” I felt like I was reeling in shame and a sheer disappointment to God. But I didn’t want to fake it. I wanted to be excruciatingly honest with God.
I thought about Paul in the New Testament saying, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” And, that He learned the secret of living in every situation.
There’s a secret? Paul learned it?
I looked back at the verses I had entered. It talked about offering thanksgiving as a sacrifice. I dug up the word sacrifice in the dictionary and it said, “an act of surrendering as an offering to God…the offering up of something precious for a cause.”
The only not-so-precious item I had to surrender was unthankfulness. Ungratefulness, not accepting His plan, only wanting to thank Him for the good gifts, lack of gratitude, discontent, displeased, worry, concern, stress, dissatisfaction, agitation, upset, irritation, frustration, fear, and so forth.
But that is not what God asked for? He asked for thanksgiving. Had I brought the wrong offering? I brought what I had. I brought what was honestly in my spirit at the time. Where was I to get thankfulness if all I had was unthankfulness.
There was a crossroads where I could run forward like a bull in a china shop and bring ruin to my spirit with my lack of gratitude. Or, I could try to fix my unthankful heart or will it to be thankful or fake it. But God tells us none of that will work. That is all external. It is conformity.
Or, I could stoop low, and let Him transform me. But how?
Thankfulness is an obedience issue. He said, “be thankful in all circumstances, to lift it as a sacrifice, to sing our praises to Him.” I realized I did not want to be obedient for so many reasons. And I had to deal with that first.
Only His mercy led us to repent the first time and receive His salvation, and only mercy will lead us to repentance every time. The Bible says another sacrifice of God is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart.
I cried out to God. I lamented. I turned to Him and said, “I don’t have it. I am not thankful. I have no right sacrifice. I need you. Give me a repentant heart, so that I may be thankful once again. Help me to turn from unthankfulness and turn toward thankfulness.”
So, I laid down unthankfulness and I picked up thankfulness. And one by one, I offered these things: Gratefulness, acceptance of His plan, admitting that all things are from the hand of our Heavenly Father, showing appreciation, acknowledgement of who He is and His perfect attributes, satisfaction in Him alone, gladness and contentedness in Him. Trust.
John Piper says, “Preach the Word of God into your heart until your heart rejoices.” Our Christan faith is an active faith. Thoughts and feelings will come. He gave us thoughts and feelings. They are His good design. But let us not follow them; let us pour His thoughts and words into us. Let His ways become our ways.
And do this every moment. It will feel exhausting and sometimes you will completely trip and fall on your face hard. Like I am right now. But, He is working in my heart as He promised. He is bringing me low. He is reminding me that in my transformation by His mercy, that thankfulness will beget thankfulness and soon my offering will be obedient and precious in His sight. And my heart will be renewed once again and my faith strengthened.
Join me this Thanksgiving, New Hope. To learn what Paul learned. The secret of living in every situation. Don’t wait to think thankful thoughts or feel thankful. But run to God and ask Him to forgive you if you have been unthankful. Ask Him to help you trust Him, obey Him and lift up a sacrifice of thanksgiving and glorify Him today.
Happy Thanksgiving New Hope.