Well, it’s November and pretty soon most people are going to be talking about Thanksgiving.
There will be a lot of folks sitting around the dinner table sharing what they’re thankful for this year. If you’re one of those people, what will you be thankful for?
On the other hand, do you feel like you don’t have much to be grateful for? Maybe like is really hard for you right now and you’re having trouble with having an attitude of gratitude.
Well, if that’s you, you’re in the right place today because in this post I’m talking about being grateful even when you don’t feel like it.
James tells us to count it all joy when we face trials. You might be thinking, can anyone do that?
Let me share this story with you.
I ran into one of my sorority sisters at Walgreens this week. As we chatted and got caught up with each other, she asked me if I had heard about her daughter. I responded that I had not.
She then started telling me how her 19-year-old daughter had been murdered by her boyfriend Labor Day weekend.
I had heard the story, but I didn’t realize it was her daughter. All I could say in that moment was that I was so sorry to hear that, and she had my condolences.
Then she smiled one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen her smile and she shared that God was keeping her through this situation. Her relationship with Him is closer than it’s ever been and even in the midst of this awful situation, she has more joy than she has ever had.
I’m still amazed, but our conversation got me thinking.
Right now, I’m facing a couple of really hard things in my life – not as hard as the murder of a child – but still difficult. And I had to ask myself, how much joy do I have? How grateful am I for everything else God is doing in my life?
That’s what I want to talk about now.
If I had to choose a theme verse for this topic today, it would be based on this one from Colossians 2:6-7: “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
If we follow Jesus, not only will our faith grow stronger, but we’ll over-flow with thankfulness. When we focus on that, no matter what’s going on in our lives, even if we don’t feel like it, we can be grateful.
Here are just a few things I can honestly say I’m grateful for, even thought this is kind of a hard time for me right now.
Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
This Psalm holds a special place for me. It was the scripture God gave to me in a dream. It’s the only time that has ever happened in my life.
But that Psalm reminded me of how the Lord provided for me and took care of me in the past. And because He did it all those other times, He’ll do it again.
We have His favor because we belong to Him. No matter the problem or circumstance, we still have God’s favor.
My grandmother always said that favor will take you places money can’t buy your way into. She was absolutely right.
God has opened doors for me and helped me to accomplish things that only were possible because of His divine favor.
2 Corinthians 12:6-11 tells us: “Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
One of the things I say all the time is that God sees our entire life – from what’s happening right now to the day we come home to be with Him. Not only that, but He knows everything about us – what we need, when we need it and what we don’t need.
When we pray for things that we believe are absolutely essential for us to have, we can’t see everything that God sees.
When I think about some of the things I’ve prayed for because I believed I needed them, I can thankfully say “Praise God” when He chose not to answer those prayers.
As we go through life, we can see one part of the story, but God sees our now and our future. He knows what’s best for us today in light of what’s going to happen tomorrow.
So, I praise Him for the no!
Psalm 5:11 says: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.”
Where would we be without God’s protection?
He is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord who is always present. No matter what’s going on, God is right there with you.
It’s easy to remember to thank Him for protecting you from known enemies and situations. But what about those unknown things we need protection from? I’m always reminded to be thankful for God saving me from people and things I don’t even see or recognize.
Be grateful for a God who is always present.
I love these verses in Daniel:3:16-18: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Our God can deliver us from every attack from the enemy. He is God and He is sovereign. There is no power on this earth stronger than Him.
And there are times that He does choose to deliver us from our struggles, challenges, and hard times.
But even when He chooses to allow us to go through some things, He is still in control. And more importantly, He’s always with us.
No matter what my troubles may be, I know that my Lord is able, and I am thankful for that.
Psalm 25:2-5 has this prayer: “I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”
Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you.
You’ve prayed and planned for things to go one way, but they go sideways, and you wonder, “well, did I hear the Lord wrong?” Not necessarily.
Sometimes, it’s not the right time. Other times, God may have allowed things to happen the way they did so that you would grow closer to Him.
But here’s the good part.
When our hope is in Jesus, we don’t ever have to give up. You can face tomorrow because trouble does not last always.
I’m grateful for the hope I have in Christ.
I’ve come to realize that I can’t wait until everything is “perfect” before acknowledging all my blessings, big and small. Blessings like favor, closed doors, protection, deliverance and hope, all matter.
Even in this hard season, I’m grateful and there’s joy in the struggles.
I want to leave you with this thought, today.
Counting it all joy when you’re going through struggles doesn’t mean that you’re happy about the struggle. Instead, it means that you can have joy in spite of the struggle.
That’s where cultivating gratitude comes in. Cultivating a grateful lifestyle has to be as natural as breathing for us. As Christians, we should have a goal of overflowing with thankfulness every day.
And that means even when we don’t feel like it.