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Merriam Webster defines thankful as, “Conscious of benefit received, expressive of thanks, or well pleased”. Each of these definitions is a reflection of choice. We choose to either be thankful or thankless. We choose to be satisfied or dissatisfied. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 we read, ” Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In Philippians 4: 11 we read, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Being thankful is important not only for ourselves but for the recipient as well. Being mindful of our circumstances, gifts, and opportunities and choosing to give thanks for them changes us.The recipient of thanks is encouraged and rightly honored. God planned for our hearts and minds to be altered in a kingdom fashion when we harbor thanksgiving rather than the emotions of the world like dissatisfaction, angst or frustration.
Being “conscious of benefit received” means we recognize the value of the gift that’s been given. For example, I helped my husband build a rail that needed to be secured in a concrete porch. We didn’t have the exact drill needed , but with creativity, we secured it safely. Some time later, our cousin gave us a specialized impact drill. Had we not done the railing project, I would not have recognized the value of the impact drill.
Being “expressive of thanks” shows we value giver and the gift My brother just celebrated his wedding. He called my husband to thank him for being a groomsman and sharing in his special day. That small yet meaningful act of thankfulness won’t be forgotten. That one call proved the importance and value he sees in my husband.
Being “well pleased” is a distinct and purposeful choice. Paul knew how to be well pleased or contented. Contented means “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation”(Merriam Webster). Being conscious of the benefit received and being expressive of thanks are more outward acts of being thankful. Being well pleased is more internal and personal. We might even be able to fool others with the prior acts, but being well pleased is something we cannot fool ourselves into believing. We are either well pleased or we are not.
Being well pleased means seeing situations, possessions, or whatever else as what they truly are and choosing to thank the Creator for His goodness. We might wake up feeling physical pain, but choosing to be pleased might sound like:” This hurts, but thank you, Lord, that I am healthy otherwise” or “thank you, Lord, that Jesus felt pain too and can advocate for me” or “Though I feel this pain now, I trust that by Jesus’ strips I can be healed.”
Choosing to be thankful doesn’t mean we are oblivious to reality or blind to hardships. We might be struggling financially or emotionally, but God can use all things meant for evil and turn them for good, if we let Him. We can’t understand the master blueprint that God is using for our lives; His ways are just too wonderful for our comprehension.
We can, however, trust that He is good and that He has a good plan for us. His plan is meant to mold us more like Jesus and to use us for His glory. One piece of that plan is that we live lives of thankfulness and contentment in all circumstances. All things of this life are temporary: the pain, the angst, the frustration, the let downs. All of it will be but a moment in time, and life with Him will be eternal. That’s hard to grasp, isn’t it?
Let every one of us be thankful in all things.Let’s take a moment and be conscious of the benefits received, expressive of thanks, and well pleased. Start with the big and obvious things, then consider the less obvious but still worthy gifts. Continue on in your thanksgiving, thanking God for even the hardships because they produce character and character produces hope.
Lord we are thankful for salvation through Jesus Christ and the hope of eternity spent with You. We are thankful for grace and mercy. We are thankful for shelter and provisions and sustenance. Family and friends mean the world to us. Jobs, health, pets, and hobbies are wonderful gifts. Swimming days, birds chirping, dinners grilling, children laughing all fill our hearts with thanks. The kiss of a spouse, the hug of a grandchild, the wave of a friend, the smile of a stranger are all but shadows of the affection You shower on us, and we thank You for them, and we adore You for the agape love You have never held back from us and never will.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for who You are, God. Thank you for who You have created us to be. Help us to live lives of thankfulness. Help us make our attitudes those of gratitude.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” Psalm 28:7
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