Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Women in the Word Wednesday: Thanks List

I Thess 5:18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

In earlier years, I read this verse and felt overwhelmed.  I wondered how in the world I could give thanks when someone dies, when a fire burns a home, when a child has cancer, or when an evil act seems to prevail.

This is a mature concept of Christianity, but God is sovereign in ALL things.  He is working it all out for His glory and for our spiritual maturity and growth.  Joseph recognized this fact when he addresses his brothers' sins against him in Genesis 50:20. "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

This is why Christians can have peace even in grief and horrible circumstances.  We have the knowledge that God has allowed this for a specific purpose AND we have the eternal hope of Heaven, where all the pain and sorrow of this sin cursed world (Genesis 3) will be gone. 

God knew that we needed those reminders of His faithfulness, provision and promises in times when we are rejoicing and times when we are struggling through a valley of sorrow or pain.  When we stop to think of God's character and the things for which we are thankful, we set our minds on eternal hopes and the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.

We had a long year of illness at our home.  Many people we know were shocked at how many times we were sick and, especially, for how long it lasted.

 I struggled with discouragement when a fever would spike or another day started and a cough was still around.  However, a tool that helped me tremendously in that struggle was to make a thanks list at the first sign of temptation to sin. 

I would drop the laundry or get up from my bed and go write out the big and little things for which I am thankful.  Since we are entitled to NOTHING, we know that everything, from the bed and home in which I am snuggled and sick, to the medicine I can take to help a high fever is a gift from God.  Before I knew it, my list was long and my mind and heart were encouraged in God's faithfulness. 

I took my eyes off my circumstances and gave thanks for the character of God and the amazing provision He always gives.  If nothing else, I can look at the provision for my sin on the cross and be content.  I don't have to face an eternity in the torment of Hell because Christ took God's wrath for me and paid for my sin on the cross.

My husband and I keep a thanks list in our bathroom, it used to be in the hallway, but the linen closet in our new home is out of the way of our usual traffic pattern.  Each day, we add something (possibly many things)for which we are thankful, and by the end of the week we have a long list to read over.  It is a good practice to focus on thanksgiving and crediting God with the good things in your life.  It is a practice that will help you be thankful in all circumstances, obeying the commands of I Thessalonians 5:18.

Ask Yourself:  Do you give thoughtful thanks daily (not just thanks for the food)?  If you have a hard time remembering to be thankful, what measurable, practical action can you take to implement thanks in your routine? 

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