I just wrote a post titled “Overflowing with Thanksgiving.” Today, I’m writing about the underside of that post.
Do you remember the old Staples commercial with the easy button? Anything you need or want – pencils, paper, even copy machines – just hit the easy button and “tada” in a day or so they arrive on your doorstep. Easy peasy!
Sometimes I have an expectation that God is like an easy button.
I want to make a list of what I want and of what I think would make me “blessed”, place my order, hit the easy button, wait only a day or two, and “tada”, I’d be healed, blessed, happy, energetic, rich, loved, skinny, healthy…(You get the idea, right?)
In getting my home ready for Thanksgiving, I realize I am struggling to consistently feel thankful. I find that alongside everything that is cause for gratitude, there is an opposite circumstance that comes to side swipe my hope and produce ungratefulness in my heart. I am continually invited to look at the difficulty, the cost, and the potential negative outcome of my situation. Every time I take a deep breath of hope, alongside comes a sucker punch of discouragement.
Maybe you understand what I mean when I say sometimes I think I have been given a “hard” button.
It’s easy to give thanks when your life is flowing with blessing. (Of course, I am talking about blessing according to my definition.) Who wouldn’t gladly give thanks for a happy home, a healthy family, or enough money to not only pay for your own expenses, but some left over to bless others? It’s easy to give thanks for a good night of sleep, a great cup of coffee or a delicious meal. You don’t even really need the easy button for these.
But what about when it’s hard?
What about giving thanks when your heart is broken, your health is shattered, or your relationships are falling apart? What about when you are simply weary, discouraged or lonely? What about when you are tired of praying, believing or waiting on God for the “blessing” you’ve been begging for?
Honestly, I’d like to exchange my hard button for an easy one.
I’ve been pondering I Thessalonians 5:18. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you.”
I noticed this verse says to give thanks in all circumstances – that is God’s will. It doesn’t say to give thanks for all things. I don’t feel that I must thank God for cancer as if it were a “gift” to me, but rather I thank Him that He has promised that even this trial will work together for my good.
Even though I know this to be true, it doesn’t mean believing is easy. Giving thanks is a choice of my will, not the fruit of my emotion. It requires a steadfast and consistent action of looking beyond the natural to God’s promises. It’s not as simple as pressing the easy button.
As I shared with a friend this week about my assignment to rest in His presence, she reminded me of the old hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” Here are the lyrics from the refrain that were written in 1922 by Composer Helen Lemmel and drawn from Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus.”
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
We can choose to turn our eyes away from the reality of our situation and instead peer into His face. There we will find our circumstances diminished; there our hearts will begin to rest in Him; there we will find our hope renewed. Everything that we are so anxious about will fade as we experience His peace. There, we will overflow with thanksgiving again.
So what about you? Anyone out there got a “hard” button of their own? Anyone struggling to be thankful? If that’s you, then join me. Together we can look fully into His face.
What is hard for us is easy for him!
PS – I already set my Thanksgiving tables. It helps me prepare both my home and my heart – I hope you will set yours too!