Staying Thankful

If you’ve missed this blog for a few Monday mornings, allow me to explain. I’m writing to you from the corner of my office, where I’m surrounded by lamps, end tables, a bookcase, and various other furnishings from my living room. Lest you think I’ve completely lost track of the season, I’m going to start back at Thanksgiving and fill in some blanks.

The past couple of months have been an unexpected whirlwind that had been in the making for three years, but still caught me off guard. Life does that to us sometimes! We plan but we don’t finalize the details and therefore really don’t expect results. In much the same way, we sometimes pray but don’t expect answers! But that’s another blog….

I decided to do some much-needed updates to my home, and soon things began to happen. Remember how working on your home leads from one thing to another to another to another…..? That’s exactly what happened! Painting led to new flooring, which led to new countertops, which led to carpet cleaning downstairs…and the list goes on!

By now you’re probably asking, “What’s your point, Sheryl?” My point in sharing all of this is that sometimes life just happens. My home has been a virtual disorganized mess for nearly two months now. I pretty much can’t find anything but my toothbrush and coffeepot!

Especially when you’ve lost a spouse, everything can look chaotic and out-of-order for quite some time. All the pieces of the puzzle seem to be in the wrong place, and just when we’re trying to focus, we can’t seem to find anything!

At times like this, we can make choices that determine our mindset, our perspective, our emotional well-being, and even our relationships with those around us. When things look chaotic, we can choose to keep our focus and to stay thankful for all the good things in our life that still surround us.

Here in the States recently we celebrated Thanksgiving Day. This is a special time when we stop to celebrate all the things with which we are blessed. Even the poorest among us is wealthy when compared to other areas of the world. When Dave was in the worst of his cancer treatment, we were still thankful for brilliant doctors, resources to seek treatment, and even the fact that we had each other and amazing kids all walking it out together. We celebrate — friends, family, abundance of food, fun with others, health, jobs, and all that God provides…all the things that are easy to be thankful for.

But then comes the scripture:

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – I Thessalonians 5:18

Wait! What?! Giving thanks in every situation is actually God’s will for me? Wow, how do I even do this when the situation in which I find myself is so painful I can barely function? This scripture is clear that God commands us to do this, and we know that He would not command something that is impossible for us to obey! If giving thanks in every circumstance is truly God’s will for me, then I have an obvious choice: obey or rebel! If I say He is my Lord, then obedience is my only choice.

Being able to give thanks in challenging circumstances is often a matter of cultivating a habit of gratitude. You may be in a season where it’s difficult for you to give thanks for anything. It may be too difficult to speak words of thanksgiving aloud, so an easier way to begin might be to write out things that you’re thankful for. Simple things…like today, as I was doing laundry, I realized how thankful I am that I don’t need to load everything in the car and go to the laundromat in the middle of the snow.

Position yourself in God’s Presence and just begin to meditate on all He’s blessed you with. Lift your vision higher. Raise your focus above the storm(s) going on around you. The Psalmist reminds us,

“I will lift my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.” – Psalms 121:1-2

Looking up is always the right direction! During the holiday season, you may have encountered situations, people, or even memories that were painful. Now that it’s all in the past, it’s easy to let isolation and depression set in again because expectations weren’t met. I encourage you to take all those thoughts captive, and to be intentional about giving thanks for everything, because this is God’s will for you.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome. You can reach me at . Please feel free to share this blog with friends who would be encouraged, and don’t forget to subscribe.


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