Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Ever had one of those days?
Well, I’ve already had one today, and it’s only 9:30 am.
Nothing catastrophic; my spinal cord injury decided to remind me of its ability to disrupt plans and make even the simplest tasks rather unpleasant. But I got past the nastiness, everything’s okay, and hopefully the injury’s done with finding ways to assert itself.—though it IS only 9:30.
So I’m sitting at the keyboard, but I don’t really want to work. Don’t want to write, plan, or even return emails—I’m frustrated that this happened, that I had to skip my ride this morning, that the day isn’t unfolding as I’d envisioned. My feelings tell me that I’d be perfectly justified if I just blew off the rest of this miserable day.
This morning’s events are especially poignant because I’ve been writing this week about maintaining an abundance mentality and an attitude of gratitude. (How To Discover Gratitude, How To Relate In Abundance)
It’s almost as though the enemy says, “Okay, you think it’s a world of abundance with lots of stuff for which you’re thankful. Well, let’s see how thankful you’re feeling after THIS.”
And you know what? I’m NOT thankful for the way this morning unfolded. I don’t like the discomfort and embarrassment and loss of control over my situation.
I almost fell into the trap.
Thankful isn’t a feeling. Gratitude isn’t an emotion. God doesn’t expect me to fake it, to pretend that I welcome the events that greeted me this morning. The bible doesn’t ask me to say I’m thankful for pain and sadness and grief. Read this passage—what’s the key word?
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]
I believe the important word is “in.” It doesn’t say “give thanks FOR all circumstances.” So while I’m emphatically not feeling thankful for the way my day started, I can still choose gratitude.
I am thankful for:
* The simple fact that I got past an episode that likely would have landed me in the emergency room a few years ago.
* The short ride I was able to do with Monte once things calmed down. I missed my normal workout, but we got outside and enjoyed the cool weather. He got to sniff around and trot three or four miles; I got to calm down and get some perspective.
* A reminder of the abundant blessings that remain. All of the good things I noticed yesterday (How To Discover Gratitude) didn’t disappear just because I experienced a setback.
* The will to write this article, even though I don’t feel like doing it. And, in fact, I actually feel better than I did when I began. I believe that’s a blessing from the Spirit, a result of believing and acting in abundance and gratitude even when I feel something different.
Mostly, though, I’m grateful for new beginnings.
I’m thankful that I’m not a product of my past, that the events of this morning don’t define the rest of my day unless I choose to allow it. I’m grateful that Jesus wiped the slate clean, and that I get to start over.
My friend Dick Foth was once asked to summarize the gospel in non-church language. I love his response:
Jesus left his place and came to our place.
Then He took our place, so He could take us to His place.
I’m grateful for that.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:8-9, 11-13