Give Thanks Because This Is God’s Will For You

Today on the SMC Women’s blog we are kicking off a series on Gratitude. So, I know I should be thankful in all things… “Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 CEB). As the weather outside gets a little chillier, I start thinking about the upcoming Holiday season. And, to be frank, I get a little twitchy. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love time off with my family. I love putting out my Maw Maw’s handed-down Nativity scene. I love baking sweet things in my Grandma’s oven for us and for others. But the rest of things just plain stresses me out, and the holidays are hard for me. There are certainly parts I don’t enjoy at all, and there is often a big hole right smack in the middle of those joyous times.

But I was thinking about the word Gratitude. What does it truly mean? And it is something that I can do in all things as I am instructed? Like any good 21st century Gen-Xer, I googled it.
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return to kindness. (Dictionary.com)

Well, now. Okay, I get the being thankful part. I thank God and people with some regularity. And I have tried to put into practice a 30-days of thankfulness in November each year to remind myself of all the things, big and small, I have to be thankful for. And I hope, in some way, that shows appreciation for those things or people or opportunities. It does make me recognize my appreciation internally as I’m concentrating on them.

But what about kindness? I mean, there are times when I’ve been thankful and exasperated. Or grateful but still frustrated. When I think about the process of typing out my thankfulness entry each day, I do tend to get that warm and fuzzy feeling, and I find myself moved by it, and perhaps a little more tender when I write it out and see it in print. I have on occasion turned my face up to meet the God I love to say thank you in those moments. And I realize as I’m typing this blog post, how much it stirs me and how much I should do this, not just in the month of November, but all the time. “Give thanks in every situation…” Yes, I should. Even in the rough patches. Even in the joyous celebrations. Even on a rainy, slightly chilly, very foggy Tuesday when it feels like the world is caving in around me because of things I can’t control. So, it does lend itself to moving me toward kindness. I guess that means I’m doing something right?

So in that spirit, I’d like to share just a few excerpts from some of those thankfulness posts over the years in the hopes that it will encourage you to do the same. “Give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make His deeds known to all people!” (Psalms 105:1 CEB). Yes! Let’s do that! Because He is good, and He is God. In no particular order, and with no date stamp on them:

Thankfulness Day 14: I am thankful for snuggly nights in, cuddled up on the couch watching movies and eating junk food. I’m thankful the heat works well, and the blankets are soft, and the atmosphere is jovial even though we are all tired from this long week and chilly day….

Thankfulness Day 16: I am thankful (and secretly typing) for sing-alongs in the shower. They don’t know I can hear them…If that sound doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will. I am thankful for lazy days with no agenda and no timeline. I am thankful for that big, bright, beautiful moon staring back at me, and all those stars! My own little slice of heaven…

Thankfulness Day 18: I am thankful for my co-workers – the ones immediately in my office and most folks I get to interact with across campus each day. They are absolutely hilarious, they are supportive, and they are kind.

Thankfulness Day 11: I am thankful for all who have served or are currently serving. I am thankful that there are people, men and women, who for generations have felt called to serve our great country so that we may all live free and prosper….

Thankfulness Day 28: I am ever so thankful for leftovers, and willing eaters. I am thankful that we are fortunate enough to have leftovers when so many have nothing. I am thankful for comfy PJ’s and my just-right bed. I am thankful that sometimes the leaves falling remind me of gentle snowflakes. I am thankful for the start of Advent. A baby changes everything…Praise God!

I could go on and on (there are several Novembers-worth of posts I could share here), because when I truly stop and think about it, there is so much to be thankful for (my children, my folks, my family and friends, my pastors, our online Bible Study group, SMC and being able to worship freely, my job, all of the amenities I have because I live here and not somewhere else…..coffee, chocolate, gas for the car, sunrises, shooting stars, quiet, chaos….). I had a moment the other day when I needed to hear from God (He has not audibly spoken to me yet, so I “hear” from Him more in visuals or through other people; and to be fair, I’m having a lot of moments when I need to hear from God lately). And He showed up then, and those other times, too. And for that I am so very grateful. Praise Him that He knows my need.

Today I challenge you to spend a few minutes thinking about the things you are thankful for, and thanking God, our Great Provider, for his many blessings, whatever they may be for you. Jesus was a great example of this, as He walked this earth as God-in-flesh. When He was with His disciples, “He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it” (Mark 14:23 CEB). Jesus gave thanks. We can and should, too. Here’s one last Thankfulness post for you:

Thankfulness October 24, 2017: I am thankful for you, friends. I am thankful for the opportunity to share with you what I’ve learned and am learning about God and myself and this world on our journey through life. I am thankful for our ability to share with you in an online capacity (and the brilliant minds that created this means of interacting). I am thankful for the SMC online Bible Study page and for all the women who read, pray, and contribute. I am thankful for the new study that will start on Monday, October 29th called “In Everything We Give Thanks” (if you’d like to join us, we can add you…just contact me or Beth Hildebrand through facebook and we’ll add you). I am thankful for the love and support of those around me, and for the village my boys and I have. And I am thankful for God who knows me, who chose me, and who loves me despite my flaws and short-comings.

We give thanks to you, God. Yes, we give thanks! Your name is near. Your marvelous deeds are declared” (Psalms 75:1). Amen.

Jessica