It is the will of God that we be a thankful people always. Always? Yes, Always.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
But, we may simply respond that such a mindset is impossible so let’s just be thankful only for the good things in life.
What could possibly be good when the bad stuff happens?
Certainly if we decide to think that way, our gratitude will be determined by our circumstances. We would be held hostage by
what happens to us. It is an outside-in approach. If all is well on the outside, all is well on the inside, kind of like a thermometer.
We can simply reflect the temperature of the day. Looking at what is going on in the world, that thermometer is pretty hot or cold!
But God is not controlled by externals. He is in control and unmoved by His environment. We cannot control God, it is the other way around.
He wants to control us. And, if we give Him control, we will be a lot more thankful! God tells us that “as a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
So how do we think straight when it comes to thankfulness? There are many good ways to get there but let’s just focus on this one suggestion for now.
Discontent: think about what you do not have and be miserable. If you are always seeing the glass half empty, you can be pessimistic about life. Think about losses, failures, sins, injustice, any kind of imperfection and chances are you will be less than happy.
Now, let’s turn that around.
Contentment: think about what you do have and be thankful. Yes, you can control your thoughts and think differently. Even the world understands that with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Thoughts determine actions.
Change your mind, you have the power to do that. The Bible uses the word “repentance” to describe changing our minds! Repentance is a good thing. The first thing Jesus did when He went out into the world was to preach repentance. (Luke 5:32, Matthew 4:17).
Did you know that we are able to learn to be content? It is not natural to our human nature. What is natural is discontent – murmuring, complaining, bitterness, unforgiveness, negativity.
How can we have a positive, grateful heart that is not tied to our circumstances? It can only happen through obedience to the Holy Spirit who wants to show Christ to us so that we are truly grateful for what Christ has done for us! Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
(John 14:6). Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). God wants to produce beautiful fruit in our lives! Read Galatians 5. Most people in that chapter are quite unhappy. But, to those who are walking in the Spirit of God, there are nine beautiful fruits.
Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Look at that last fruit! Self control. If the Holy Spirit is controlling us, He will lead us into the blessing of God. This is a lifetime project. The Holy Spirit is given to us to help us, comfort us and lead us into Truth.
God wants to control us from the inside out. If He is placing the Truth into our minds, we will have the mind of Christ and we can be overcomers. All of us have plenty of imperfection in our lives to overcome. Will that adversity overcome us or will we learn to be content and overcome by faith in the Truth. If you are a Christian, you are saved from all the sins in your life and the sins of others. Paul once trusted in his personal achievements to be successful in life but he came to realize that all of his accomplishments were lacking. Instead, he changed his thinking and put all of his confidence in Christ. Trust in self alone without God’s control and be discontent. Trust in Christ alone and find perfect forgiveness and reconciliation with God. The life of a Christian is not free from trials. All of us believers and unbelievers alike are going into this Thanksgiving with troubles – we are not in heaven yet. The question is this, are we responding to life like a thermometer or a thermostat? Think about what you have. If you have Christ, you have everything!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:4-7,12-13