And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:14-16
It seems typical to write about a heart of thankfulness during Thanksgiving week, but every year we are reminded that we should be thankful for everything, even the things we take for-granted. Like the smell of your favorite meal cooking, the laughter of a child, or the warmth of a blanket.
Even thought it’s Thanksgiving, it’s often easier to look at your life and focus on what’s gone wrong. We all have disappointments and regrets. We all can look back at our life and see moments where, had we made a better decision, perhaps our life today would be different.
For a good majority of my life I would say I had a critical spirit and not a heart of thankfulness. Nothing was good enough, and I constantly found myself frustrated at my current circumstances. I was labeled “negative” by some people and honestly those people were right (though I didn’t believe it at the time). I was negative and frankly not a nice person. Speaking my mind was just another way of saying, “I’m about to say something mean but since I’m just speaking my mind you need to deal with it”.
Eventually, I woke up one day with no close friends and a family who had distanced themselves from me. It took years of losing friends, jobs, and a lot of gut-wrenching soul searching (a.k.a. Holy Spirit inspired humbling) to realize who I was and that change was needed. The truth is, when you nearly lose everything due to your own stupidity, and then you experience the mercy of a loving God, you begin to see life through a different set of lenses. Even though your world may be on fire and everything seems to be lost, God helps you see the blessings through the smoke. Your perspectives change and what was once seen as a curse is now viewed as another opportunity for growth and maturity.
As I type this blog I’m reminded of the the story of when the disciples and Jesus were caught in a windstorm while crossing the sea.
“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4:37-38
Here we have Jesus asleep in a boat and the disciples were so focused on their [legitimate] fear of the waves crashing around them that they lost focus of the guy who created the waves! Sure, they eventually came to him in a panic, but what they failed to realize was that they had the power within them to calm the seas.
“He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” vs 40
Yes, the disciples look silly here, but I guarantee you the next time they found themselves in a boat with Jesus and a storm approached, they reacted differently. But did they? Time and time again the disciples missed the mark and for most of them, including Peter, it wasn’t till after his resurrection that the truth set in.
We aren’t much different? We have the same small faith that the disciples had, and they walked and talked with Jesus Christ? God has been faithful to us over and over again, but we still lack faith and find ourselves more focused on the waves and not Christ.
A person who lacks a thankful spirit is a person who can’t see past the waves. So if you struggle with being thankful, like I still do to this day, this Thanksgiving let’s press in, ignoring the smoke and waves, while letting the peace of Christ rule our hearts. Having a heart of thanksgiving is an act of worship. It’s exalting the greatness and faithfulness of God beyond what we can see or feel.
Let’s be thankful.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19
- Lyell Walker