Friday, November 20, 2015

Be Thankful in ALL Circumstances

Many years ago my sister Mel shared a story that inspired her to start a thankful journal: it was of a mother who's daughter was enduring a particularly difficult day of chemotherapy. She was encouraged by a friend to begin writing 5 things she was thankful for each day and on this day she found herself being uplifted rather than hopeless. Thankful for the medical staff, her husbands support, the love shared between her children, the bright full moon, and the unwavering commitment of family and friends. It was this story that also sparked a flame in my own heart; if this woman could be thankful in such dire situations, I could as well. More than 5 journals later, another 8 women joining me, and countless days that seemed I had nothing to be thankful for (examples: One of "THOSE" Days and 'Tis the Season {To Be Thankful}) I am forever changed. Everyday I'm thankful Mel inspired me to join her.

I encourage you to join us.

This Thanksgiving season is a perfect time to start. Find a journal, date it, and begin writing 5 things you're thankful for each day. If the above story didn't encourage you, here's 10 more reasons to start one. And if those 10 reasons don't have you convinced, perhaps the truth in God's Word will.

Be Thankful in ALL Circumstances

It was this verse that inspired Betsie Ten Boom to be thankful for the fleas in the barracks of her bed in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Corrie Ten Boom (her sister) wrote of this experience with wide-eyed-shock in her book, The Hiding Place. How can one be thankful for fleas?! Betsie's simple explanation was that God's Word said to be thankful in ALL life's circumstances. At that moment, they were dealt fleas. The reason they decided to list things they were thankful for was because they had a Bible and that morning they finished reading 1 Thessalonians. The story Corrie pieces together of how they were able to keep the Bible gave me goosebumps. It was one of the many ways God revealed Himself in their lives. So they were thankful for that Bible and Betsie was genuinely thankful for fleas. It came to be that every day the ladies in their barracks were able to read the Bible together, which in and of itself was a miracle, the guards would not allow that (had they been in their barracks). You want to know why the guards would not step foot in their barracks? Fleas. God gave them fleas so they could read His Word and pray together! Had Betsie not been thankful in ALL circumstances, this would not have been revealed to them. As a result of this story, this particular verse is one my heart clings to, and my prayer is often (with trembling lips), "God, make me like Betsie." I can only hope and pray that when dealt hardship I will be able, God willing, to give thanks in all circumstances.

Let's consider, for a moment, Paul, the author of the letter of 1 Thessalonians. He was dealt hardship throughout his life as well. His conversion (in Acts 9) resulted in his being blind and Jesus said of his ministry, "... I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:16) Suffer he did. Continue reading Acts and you'll find he was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and threatened. In each of his letters he is thankful for the audience, thankful to God for his circumstances and is content as a result. Read Philippians as one illustration. Despite his imprisonment, his attitude was one of rejoicing and contentment (Philippians 4:10, 11). He told his audience that he is thankful for their generosity and concern for him. He learned that in whatever situation his secret in the face of hunger, need, abundance, plenty and imprisonment is Christ.

We should live in the same way. In abundance or need, hunger or plenty, be thankful. Starting that habit now will help you rejoice in your blessings and give you a grateful heart on those rotten days; because they will come. Prepare your heart for rejoicing and thankfulness to God for ALL He gives and takes away (Job 1:21) - starting today! 

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