Our human-race default is to focus on what we lack, or wish we had. For instance:
I wish I had more money and less bills.
I wish I had a better job.
I wish I had… (fill in the blank.)
Some things are trivial: We all know how repelling that perpetually negative person can be, seemingly always having something to complain about.
While others are far more acute: personally, I wish I had my son back.
When Satan has us in a death grip, tempting us relentlessly to focus on what’s missing from our lives, God provides a principle in scripture that comes with a corrective property.
It’s called “being thankful.”
God’s choice in how things are worded in the Bible are, as you will agree, intentional. So, when Psalm 100 includes “Enter his gates with thanksgiving,…” there is significance to that. As one author put it, “It appears thanksgiving is the gateway to [intimacy with God.]”
Paul warned the believers in Ephesus to abstain from “sexual immorality, covetousness,…” and then wrote, “but instead, let there be thanksgiving.”
It’s hard being thankful. It’s not our default.
But it has a liberating effect. Our stress eases, our blood pressure begins to lower, and life becomes a little clearer as we begin to sense the presence and power of the Almighty Christ i.e. that in our trivial complaints, our inconveniences, our pain, our piled-up bills and broken relationships, it’s going to be ok.
Parenthetically, we are never instructed to be thankful for our pain, but rather in it.
A passage that haunts me is found in Luke’s gospel, 17:11-19. After Jesus mercifully heals ten lepers he instructs them to, as instructed by the OT Law, present themselves before the priests. One of them, stopped and ran back to Jesus – just to say thank you. The reason we know this is huge is because Jesus asked the man, “Where are the other nine?”
It pains me to know that, all too often, I have been counted among “the other nine.”
What/who are you thankful for today?
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick