Giving thanks (2)
When you’re going through a difficult time, do you ever find yourself asking, ‘Why me, God? Why don’t You answer my prayers? Why doesn’t Your Word encourage me like it seems to encourage others?’ Maybe your friends have tried to help by saying things like ‘stay positive’, ‘it’s all for the best’, or quoting Bible verses like ‘For I know the plans I have for you’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) or ‘Rejoice always’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16 ESV). While all these things might be true, they often just make us feel worse. We might feel like failures as Christians because we’re not full of joy and we’re not feeling positive. When life overwhelms us, the last thing we feel like doing is giving thanks. So how can we cultivate an attitude like Paul’s, who sang hymns and worshipped God while in prison? Here are a few ideas: 1) Acknowledge how we’re feeling. We can think that we have to hide our feelings, because Christians are supposed to ‘rejoice always’. But we should admit how we’re feeling to God, then He can help us begin to heal and regain our joy. 2) Refuse to retaliate. When something bad happens to us, often our first reaction is to retaliate, get angry, or even to blame God. But as we saw in yesterday’s reading, there are still reasons to be thankful even in the bad times. Which leads us to: 3) Choose to give thanks. This might not come naturally at first, so we may have to make a conscious effort to be thankful. We need to remember that God hasn’t let us down before, and hold on to the fact that He wants the best for us. When we do that, we’ll feel more able to rejoice and give thanks.
Start a list of all the good things in your life, all the things God’s blessed you with and all the good things He’s done for you. Keep adding to it as you remember or experience new things. When you’re feeling despair, read through the list to remind yourself of God’s goodness to you.
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