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give thanks

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

In our home we a have a dinnertime tradition in which we go around the table and each person shares one thing they are thankful for that day. We do this all year long, not just on Thanksgiving day. I know I’ve shared our tradition on this blog before, and those who know us well know about this little practice of ours.

The dinner table activity of sharing something we are grateful for did not find its way into our home during a time when circumstances in our lives were going well and life was good. On the contrary, this tradition was conceived during a very challenging and stressful season; a time of pain and grief. We understood that the joy and peace that would carry us through to the other side of the situation was not going to be found in wallowing and bitterness. We knew wallowing would only keep us imprisoned in our circumstances. So we took our cue from Paul and Silas – who, while tossed in a jail cell and chained to a wall, began to pray and sing hymns which triggered an earthquake that shook the prison doors open and their chains loose – and we began to praise.

The most effective way to find freedom form whatever prison we are experiencing in our lives is to praise and give thanks. Don’t wait for the feeling to be there or for the setting of your life to give you something to be thankful for. In brokenness we give thanks because it is God’s will for our lives. And not because God is unloving and not empathetic to the real tragedies we experience, but because he knows that true joy comes from true praise. It’s not masking the pain or pretending life is better than it really is. It is being honest with ourselves, and with God, that this is not an easy time, and then declaring that God is above even our darkest days. It is a reminder to our hearts that God is good and faithful.

Give thanks when the day is bright and there is a song in your heart.

Give thanks when your heart is worn and weary.

Give thanks when your cup is full.

Give thanks in your emptiness.

Give thanks in the morning light.

Give thanks in the dark.

“Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” Psalm 86:4

The Thanksgiving season reminds us to count our blessings, but the attitude of gratefulness and the heart of thankfulness should guide and carry us through all year long.

I am so grateful for the broken roads we’ve walked in years past, and I am so overwhelmingly thankful for the seasons of rest and restoration. Each one has taught me something of value and depth, and overall I have learned that God is always good.

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night.” Psalm 92:1-2

Give thanks.

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

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