There are always things for which we are grateful. The bills paid another month, the new job, the kids doing well, time spent with family and friends, the recovered health of a loved one. And rightly we should be thankful for them. But we also look to these types of thankfulness to lift us in bad times. Sometimes they do, however, in the couple years since I've started reading on the topic, I've felt challenged to look at thankfulness differently. When I think of thankfulness, should I only think of the good? Does a season of hard times lack reasons to be thankful?
Why is that? We don't naturally feel like being thankful when things are going wrong. So why should we? The real question is, What is the purpose of giving thanks? Psalm 7:17 says, "I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High." We give thanks because He is righteous. Because He is just. Because He is holy. Because He is worthy. There is no other reason needed; therefore, we can and should rejoice in the hard times. Job, who lost everything, said it best when he cried out, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of The Lord be praised." (Job 1:21)
Easier said than done? Absolutely, one hundred times, yes! It has taken me years upon years to even consider true thanksgiving, let alone attempt it. God never said life would be easy or that pain would be less because of our faith. And although I may not have suffered comparable to others, I have gone through a few things and come out the other side a better person for it, able to see in hindsight how God used the experience to mold me. And the "side effects" of living thanksgiving are priceless. Grace and joy miraculously abound as we put into practice a thankful heart.
Thankfulness for the good things in life is not diminished just because we need to be thankful during the bad. I have never been more thankful than I am this year and it has been through both good and bad circumstances. Each season draws me closer to this truth in its own way. And each act of thanksgiving - true eucharisteo - is a moment of grace and a filling of joy.
*title created using "thanksliving" from Ann Voskamp's site aholyexperience.com