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Thanksgiving–Joy for Every Single Day

By Dianne D. McDonnell

Thanksgiving comes every year, but most Americans still don’t seem to grasp its potential for transforming their lives. Everyone gets busy fixing, then eating the turkey dinner, and sitting in front of the TV cheering their team. We all forget to ever get around to thanking God for the joys of our lives!  If we start to look at Thanksgiving Day as a day to start being truly thankful every day from then on, then we are on our way to a great blessing!

If every day you turn your heart to God for just a few minutes out of that day, and think, “What am I thankful for?” Think beyond just material things. Then say a prayer of gratitude for everything that comes to your mind.  As you daily ask yourself this question you’ll soon realize that you have plenty of reasons to be thankful! 

If you are reading this, then you must be alive!  What a joy it is just to be living!  Just to be able to see the leaves turn crimson and golden in the crisp fall, to hear the gentle patter of rainfall falling on the roof at night, and to feel sunshine on your face the morning after the rain.  You can marvel at the myriad forms of flowers and green plants glistening with dew, watch the sparkling flow of a clear river, and hear the sound that the cool gurgling water makes.  All of these little things are precious, amazing things!

If you are lucky enough to have one really good friend, that is a priceless blessing! If you have parents to love, or children, or even a pet that loves you, it is a blessing beyond wealth. All of us vary in how we are blessed, yet all of us have reasons to be thankful once we stop and think.

When you spend a few minutes each day expressing gratitude to God, this begins to create a positive focus for your life.  As you single out all of the good things in your life, you began to base your life around what is good, joyful, and happy, and your life begins to take on a new joy and peace!

This time of thankfulness begins to attune your life to God's own goodness, and you start to see things in a different way. Soon you find your prayers of thanksgiving turning into praise!  God has created so much for us to enjoy, how good He is! Once we really focus our minds on God's incredible goodness, we begin to stop doubting Him, and start praising Him. And finally, we trust him.

We find an awesome promise in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (The New American Standard Updated Bible is quoted throughout.)

He promises us that all things will work out for our good if we are called according to his purpose, his plan!  All who are true Christians have a part in this promise. No matter what happens God is going to somehow or another make things work out good for you!  It may not be the way you expect it to work out but there will be a good result in the end! Years from now, even what you now perceive to be a disaster, will actually wound up bringing benefit to you!  So never despair. Even if you're in a place in life where you feel God gives you mostly trials and few blessings, remember God is not finished with his plan yet! God is a good, merciful God and he will see you through your trials and finally bring about great and generous, joyful and good things for you in this life and also when you receive your reward for faithfulness later on.

Once I was very sick. I knew God could make me fully well from the daily pain I faced. Doctors proved unable to help. The sickness would improve for a few months, and then strike again just as bad as before causing great weariness, extreme pain and aching joints. As the months became years I continued to believe that God could intervene and heal me. After seven years He did heal me. I was no longer on any medication so I know that medicine was not the reason I recovered.  Medical science had failed me, but God had not.  Since that time I have a new compassion and concern for the sick. My experience gave me faith in God’s ability to heal any disease. And many believers that I have prayed for have gotten well as a result of my faith—hard learned over seven painful years. So I have seen God bring good out of bad! My heavy trial yielded a strong faith in God and finally became a witness and a blessing to others!

In Acts, chapter 27, we find a biblical account of the apostle Paul that illustrates a lot about thankfulness.  Paul was sailing for Rome where he would stand trial before Caesar.  Earlier, Paul was warned by a prophet named Agabus that he faced a martyr’s death.  This warning is recorded in Acts 21:10-14. It was not going to be an easy death in a comfortable bed with his friends around him.  No, Paul was facing a difficult martyrdom in Rome and he knew it. 

Now his ship was caught up in hurricane force winds. The violent winter storm tossed the vessel mercilessly for two weeks and was about to rip it apart on massive rocks off the coast of an island still some distance away. There were 274 people on board staring in terror at the massive waves striking their ship. Some of them couldn’t even swim!

Yet we find in Acts 27:23-35 that God cared so much about Paul that he sent an angel to reveal to him that although the ship was going to be destroyed, God planned to spare every person on board!  Paul told everyone that their lives were going to be saved, so they should stop going without food and eat.  In the middle of this trauma -- with everyone wondering if Paul was telling the truth -- Paul took food, blessed it, and gave thanks!  God had NOT YET brought about the miracle that he promised would save them! The wind was still howling and the ship was still groaning and creaking underfoot—but Paul was joyfully giving a prayer of thanks! He was grateful for God’s promise even before it came true! And he knew he was still heading toward martyrdom once this crisis was past! Paul could give thanks on a day when he was still looking death straight in the eye! Yet still PAUL GAVE THANKS!

No matter what trial we are in, if we turn our minds and hearts to God, He can give us the faith and courage to get through whatever situation we are in, and somehow eventually even turn it to our good.  What can be more magnificent than that?  What can be more marvelous?  No matter how your life rocks beneath your feet, no matter what trials threaten to drown you, you can turn to God and know that he has promised to work all things together for your good!  All things!  Every single one! 

When we come daily before our Father and thank him for the blessings he has put into our lives, it opens our eyes to his goodness. When we are grateful for the past times he has saved us out of trials, encouraged us and helped us through, then we focus us on his great power. And, like Paul, we can even thank him for the promised events that have not yet some to pass!  If we come daily before God in thankfulness, then we attain a peace of mind that no one and no event can shake. For, “…the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” Romans 8:6.

We can truly pour out gratitude to a loving God that is so powerful that no event can stop His will from being accomplished in our lives! And His will for our lives will yet yield good and marvelous results!

See John 4:16-18 to see that we are promised Eternal Life –life that will never end! In Matthew 24:42-51, Jesus revealed one of the rewards for one who faithfully serves God and feeds God’s household true spiritual food. Jesus promised such a person that the Master “will put him in charge of all his possessions.” There is no one on earth wealthy enough to compare to a person who is “in charge of” all the possessions of God the Father and Jesus Christ!

Yes, there will be trials! Jesus warned us in Matt. 24:13 that we must “stand firm to the end” and not compromise the truths of God through many difficult times! But God’s love for us can see that we triumph! Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul sums it up well in Romans 8:31-32, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

Let’s be grateful daily for all we have now in the present. But also, like Paul, let us also be grateful ahead of time-- for all of God’s future plans for us!


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