Source of Thankfulness – Not a Pollyanna Thing
I just thought I’d get this out of the way right at the start – I am not Pollyanna, people. I don’t simply believe in finding silver linings and plastering a smile on your face “no matter what.” That is not counting your blessings to me at all. I believe you can be thankful while still sorrowing greatly and feeling joy without an ear-to-ear smile. So now that that is out of the way, I’d love to share with you the source of my thankful spirit.
This may come as no surprise to those of you who’ve read my previous posts, but a thankful spirit begins and is fueled by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing – can I say it again – nothing else will sustain it long-term. For the rest of this post (and more in this series), my comments will be directed to those who also have trusted in Christ and enjoy the benefits of a relationship with Him. If you aren’t sure what I mean or have never even heard that you can have a personal relationship with Christ (in contrast to mere religion), I invite you to spend time in the Gospel of John in the Bible. I also encourage you to take time to watch this video which gives the main message of the Bible – salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I hope in days ahead to share my personal testimony of that relationship in my life.
For now, I want you to know that thankfulness, unshakeable joy and peace do not come overnight. There are certainly abounding blessings that do come early on in one’s walk with the Lord. However, there are richer, fuller, deeper things ahead of those that take time to learn. Each year, I stand amazed at all I didn’t know the year before and all that I still have to learn for the years ahead. So I am in no way promising that you can “arrive” at a full knowledge of the blessings of Christ (Eph. 1). There is, however, an undeniable, intentional progression of growth that the Father plans for His children. I am simply going to testify of that for me in my walk with Him.
So let’s start with I Thessalonians 5:18. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Since I am speaking of thankfulness here, I am going to highlight it as just one of many things to do in God’s will. The verse actually comes right in the middle of a list of Christian conduct commands. (I know, we don’t like that word, but those verses are imperatives.) So, in other words, this isn’t a suggestion. This is the exact recipe to live obediently and then watch the reality of Eph.1 unfold as you obey. And it just so happens that being a blessing hunter is one of those things to obey. (Deep breath. Are you all ok? Stick with me. Strong, but with lots of love, I promise.)
Do you see what allows us to even obey God’s will for us? I just love how often the Lord gives the ability to follow Him directly in the command itself: “in Christ Jesus.” In other words, ‘do this, all you who are in Christ, because you can in Christ!’ And in case you are still a little skeptical that you can, hop on down to verses 23 and 24: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” Look at that! What a loving Lord! What other authority would give you a command and then fully furnish you exceedingly beyond your own ability in order for you to obey (Eph. 3:20)?! When we pursue this conduct as a new creature in Christ, God Himself will sanctify us for His own purpose and He is completely faithful to do so day in and day out!
So where do you begin?
We just need to start with baby steps. Be convinced, first of all, that you are in fact commanded and enabled to be known as a thankful person. Just start there and pray for that conviction. Then know that your source for the thankful journey is being found in Jesus Christ. I promise lots of practical help to come and testimony to how He is faithfully refining a habitual, yet not perfect, thankful spirit in me.