My friends, I know we get a lot of stuff this time of year about thankfulness, but I have to share a story with you. I hadn’t even planned to post this week with the holiday, but this seemed the perfect time to share it.
The last week or so has been tough. In all honesty, I’ve been struggling with feeling down and melancholy. I couldn’t figure out why and the more I prayed about it, the worse it seemed to get.
Then late Sunday I read the devotional in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young for that day (Nov. 24th) and the pieces started to fit together. Here’s a snippet from that day, though I highly recommend you read the entire passage as well as the entries from the day before and the days after as they carry a theme of thankfulness. And if you don’t have this book, I highly recommend it.
“There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). . . Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts.”
As I read it again Monday morning I realized I hadn’t been thankful much at all lately. I can’t even tell you how and when it happened, but there I say with a thankless heart and no joy. My focus had shifted somewhere to seeing only the challenges of late and a melancholy had settled in.
I wanted my joy back. Had been praying for it for days. Like Paul, I thought I’d learned to be content in my circumstances. Obviously not. Plus a good friend gave me some great words of wisdom on how the enemy comes in to distract us from what we’re doing, but not in the way we’d expect. He’ll hit a completely different area just to pull our attention away from what we’re doing to please and serve God.
Sometimes Abba answers us in pretty clear ways. Other times I think He likes to see if we can come to an understanding with a few nudges and connect the dots ourselves. Makes the “lesson” more memorable that way, I think.
Well, the pieces had come together and I had found my solution. I spent that morning thanking Abba, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for everything I could think of, mostly for Him. It took some effort at first (had to ignore the feelings), but as I continued, my joy began to flow back and grow! And I felt reconnected and closer to Jesus once again.
This was a big lesson for me, dear friends. In light of what we endured through my daughter’s cancer, I thought of myself as a thankful person, even took some pride in it, and that is where I let the enemy in—I was confident in myself, not Abba (2 Corinthians 3:4-5
Pride always gives the enemy an entrance. But thankfulness is one of the quickest ways to shut those doors. If I feel my joy ebbing away again, you better believe I’m going to check my thankfulness meter first.
I want to give you one more snippet from Jesus Calling to bring this point home:
“To protect your thankfulness, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely. A constant focus on adversity defeats many Christians. They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts. Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds. How precious are My children who remember to thank Me at all times. They can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them.”