Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Three Simple Steps to Thankfulness When Life Caves In

 Big Idea: Practice being thankful when life caves in,as it does not come to us naturally.


Life is Caving In Again

It happened again this week. I got another emotional punch in the gut. My mind started whirling and turning to self pity. Then a little voice went off like a cell phone reminder. Practice thankfulness. It is the week before Thanksgiving, after all I told myself!

 I recently went to the orthopedic surgeon to get my cast off. We hoped I could start walking again after being off my foot for 5 months. But the bone is still not fused together. How can this be? This is taking FOREVER. I left with that gut punched feeling again.

I already had written this blog post about my cancer reoccurrence (almost 2 years ago), but I changed the story.  This is fresh. Does crisis never end?

Spouting off platitudes is unhelpful

Of course there is always something to be thankful for. But to spout off platitudes is unhelpful. Life is hard. Life hurts. Reality disappoints. However, getting eaten up by bitterness is not productive or a good testimony. Learning to be thankful is essential.

Three steps to thankfulness 

1. Just do it

Sometimes we need to go through the motions whether we feel like it or not. In customer service one is taught to smile as you talk even if you don’t feel like it. Evidently just the smile makes what you say sound better.

Two mad kids
Photo by Izzy Park on Unsplash
When you and your siblings fought as kids didn’t your mom say – OK tell each other you’re sorry.  She made you say it whether you meant it or not. And while it still smarted, you moved forward.

In marriage, one should say “I love you” even on days when we don’t feel like it. Love is more than a feeling. One gets past the rough day. The loving “feeling” comes back as we keep practicing love.

Go through the motion and thank God whether you feel like it or not. The emotions will catch up.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT

 2. Give God a treat!

We live in a “me” culture that does not reward or easily grasp sacrifice.

As a mom I sometimes put aside a treat for my kids (which I want to eat myself). I know they will be thrilled.  

But why save something for God? He has everything. So I ask myself. What is a treat for Him?

Sacrifice is something we give God to please Him.  We may prefer to keep it selfishly for ourselves. But a humble thankful attitude honors Him. He relishes our thankfulness like a special treat.

I don’t mean to make what we give God trivial like giving a dog a treat. Instead consider what tickles and delights Almighty God. Isn’t it amazing that we can touch God with our attitudes?

 “Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.” Psalm 50:23a NLT

 “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:17 NLT

 I believe thanking God warms His heart.

3. Practice, practice, practice 

When is it necessary to practice?

playing piano
Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

  • When we need to build up strength.
  • When we are not very good at something.
  • When we want to hone our abilities.
  • When we want to keep in good shape.

Practice. Practice. Practice. 

When I felt that knot in the pit of my stomach I knew it was time to practice thankfulness again. I need practice because I need to strengthen my habit of thankfulness for the next hard experience I will face. Again! I need to intentionally turn my heart to Him.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6 NLT

This Thanksgiving, practice thankfulness. How can you put thankfulness into practice today?


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1. When do you grate against thanking God? When does it not come naturally for you?

2. Could you practice a short prayer of thankfulness right now in whatever circumstance you are in? What might remind you to be thankful when you are punched emotionally in the gut?

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