As Thanksgiving has come upon us, (or snuck up behind us and frightened the living day lights out of some of us) It has brought the thoughts of Thanksgiving and counting our blessings. I have thought that What would life be like without gratitude? In my experience, thankfulness brings joy. And “The Joy of the Lord is our Strength.” Neh. 8:10
Being thankful for the ‘hard’ things, is not easy. Hence the word ‘hard’. For instance, being thankful for washing dishes. Something I never thought I would ever say is that I enjoy washing dishes. I hated it! I am being rather transparent here, but I had a horrible attitude about washing dishes. And as the oldest daughter, it is something I did quite frequently. By complaining, I made myself miserable for 30 min. twice a day every day. The Lord showed my once, that finding delight in something is a choice. It took me a while, to change my mindset. But instead of complaining, being thankful was what I needed to do. “Thank you Lord that I have hands to wash with. Thank you that I can serve my family in this way. Thank you for Clean water, for soap and clean towels that most people don’t have. Thank you for the family that I GET to serve daily by this task.” When I started to look at it as a ‘washing the disciples feet’ sort of task and realize that I didn’t HAVE to do it, I GOT to, My attitude changed. It was only recently that I realized that washing dishes is now one of my favorite chores. I have come off as more than conqueror through him that loved us. By praying and asking Him to change my heart, He did it without me even realizing it. I now have a sense of joy and fulfillment when I am washing dishes. And I am most ashamed of my attitude before. Here is one of my favorite stories that helped to put me into perspective. It is the story of Betsie an Corrie Ten Boom when they were in the concentration camp Ravensbruck. They had just been assigned their bunks and this is what happened.
“To reach it we had to stand on the bottom level, haul ourselves up, and then crawl across three other straw-covered platforms to reach the one that we would shared with –how many? the deck above us was too close to let us sit up. We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw. WE could hear the women who had arrived with us finding their places.
Suddenly, I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
“Fleas!” I cried. “Betsie, how can we live in such a place!”
“Show us. Show us how.” It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“Corrie!”she said excitedly. “he’s given us the answer! Before we asked, he always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!”
I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. “It was in First Thessalonians,” I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen. In the feeble light I turned the pages. “Here it is: ‘Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. . .’” It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.
“Go on,” said Betsie. “That wasn’t all.”
“Oh yes: ‘. . . to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of Christ Jesus—‘”
“That’s it Corrie! That’s His answer. ‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ That’s what we can do. we can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”
I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“Such as?” I said.
“Such as being assigned her together.”
I bit my lip. “Oh yes. Lord Jesus!”
“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”
I looked down at the Bible. “Yes! Thanks you dear Lord that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank you for all the women, here in this room, who will meet you in these pages.”
“Yes,” said Betsie. “Thank you for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!” she looked at me expectantly. “Corrie!” she prodded.
“Oh, all right. thank you for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds.”
“Thank you,” Betsie went on serenely, “for the fleas and for—-“
the fleas! This was too much. “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”
“Give thanks in ALL circumstances,’” she quoted. “it doesn’t say ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”
And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
But she was right. Oh so right! Being thankful in the difficult circumstances is never easy, but it is what God calls us to do. It is something he is teaching me lately. Finding joy in the mundane. Being thankful in hard times. Gratitude is important. It shapes our entire attitude and outlook on life. And it is a choice we have to make. We don’t just wake up being thankful, we have to choose to be. And the day of Thanksgiving is the perfect reminder of that.
“To bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving means to sacrifice your understanding of what is beneficial and thank God for EVERYTHING because He is benevolent. A sacrifice is by definition not an easy thing.” –Ann Voskamp
“Thank you Lord for The sacrifice you made for me. For Loving me enough to die for me. To save me from my sins and Create a relationship between me and the Father. Thank you for Family that loves me. Thank you for a beautiful home, for being able to share it with my best friends. For Clean water, and Heat. For the beautiful snow. For the ability to read your word and live my life in a way that glorifies you. And Thank you for all the things that are good and bad. Thank you for the things that are hard and challenge my faith and cause me to grow closer to you. Thank you for all this and so much more. “
May you be blessed this Thanksgiving,
Truly, only by His Grace,