“What are you thankful for?”
That was the question I was greeted with every morning from one of my instructors in Bible College. It didn’t matter that it was early in the morning, and that no one in the class was fully awake yet. He expected every member of the class to have their hand raised, fully prepared with something to be thankful for.
I remember during the first week of class most people were thankful for God helping them with their finances. Whether someone's tuition was paid for, someone received a large tip at work, or someone got a new job, many of my classmates were thankful for their financial breakthrough.
While our instructor encouraged us all to find reasons to be thankful and to acknowlede God working in our lives, he also began to help us make adjustments to our perspective about Thanksgiving.
He told us, the highest level of thankfulness is actually thanking God for who He is, for eternal things, and for things that will never change. He said, “Ask yourself a question. What if someone hadn’t paid off your tuition? What would you do if someone doesn’t give you a big tip at work tomorrow? Would you still be able to find a reason to thank God?”
He wanted us to see that we can’t let our circumstances be the reason we thank God. Circumstances are always subject to change. If I can only have a good day and acknowledge the goodness of God when all the areas of my life are just as I want them, I am setting myself up for a life of disappointment. But, if I allow my day to be good because I’m aware that God Himself is good, then I can live a thankful life regardless of the circumstances around me.
If I am aware that God Himself is good I can live a life of thankfulness no matter the world around me.
One of my favorite verses about thankfulness is found in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
At the heart of this verse, it says not to let worry about your situation overwhelm you, but rather talk to God about the situation and pray to Him about it. It’s important not to ONLY talk to Him about it. Scripture also calls us to enter into a place of thankfulness. I believe it’s not just thanking Him that the situation you are concerned with is taken care of, but thanking Him because he cares for you. Thanking Him that before the foundations of the world, He chose and accepted you. Thanking Him that before you did anything to earn it, He chose to love you. Thanking Him that He sent his Son Jesus to wash away all your sin, and to bring you back into a relationship with Him. Every day, I can choose to be thankful that I’m righteous, healed, and a child of God. I can choose to be thankful that He is always with me, always for me, and he will never leave my side. All these things are eternal and will never change, even when the circumstances around me do.
The benefit of entering this type of thanksgiving is experiencing the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. That means that even when I should have every reason to be stressed out, worried, or anxious, I can set my awareness on God. I can talk to Him, thank Him for who He is and experience His peace guarding my heart and mind.
When I am thankful to God for who He is, I can be confident that who He is will never change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Since I know that He loves me, I know that he will always have my back. Because He’s with me, I know that I’m never in any situation on my own.
When I’m thankful to God these things, it puts me into an awareness of Him. When I am aware of Him, that puts me into position to experience Him. That means that thanking God for who He is, gives me the ability to live from a higher perspective than my current situation. When I can see things from a higher view, I can see that the situation I’m facing will not last forever.
Whatever you are going through will fade away. This difficult and trying season will pass. But God, the very source of love and peace, will always remain. I encourage you this week, no matter what you’re facing, see things from a new perspective. Make yourself aware of Him and become thankful to God for who He is to you. As you do, I am confident that you will begin experiencing his peace and goodness in every area of your life.
Share this message with your friends & family!