Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
The week before Thanksgiving the Veritas Kindergarteners were asked to proclaim what they are thankful for. Many expressed thanks for their families, for friends, for food – the blessings we are all so grateful for. My grandson Jude expressed thanks for fresh air!
We certainly do have much to be thankful for and the giving of thanks is a simple gesture!
Yet it is fundamentally profound and deeply life changing. Healing even.
A few years ago, I was blessed by reading Ann Voskamp’s book ” One thousand Gifts” which changed my perspective on life. She dares the reader to “live fully right where you are.”
And the way to do this is by choosing to be grateful.
Want to know God’s will for you? This is it – that we REJOICE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS. Not merely for what gives us joy or goes our way but in EVERY circumstance we find ourselves in.
When facing troublesome circumstances, I try to remind myself of the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16- 18 “ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This reminder serves to keep the mud from blinding my vision in those troubling times when I am feeling overwhelmed and flying out of control.
What an amazing daily privilege and opportunity we have to enter his gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise where our enemy can’t reach us and God in his loving compassion takes over for us. It’s where prayers are answered and miracles occur. Yes, miracles! It is where we find contentment and healing and peace. It is where we find rest; here our worries and anxieties are defeated.
When I am not abiding in a mindset of gratitude, I quickly begin to grumble and complain and focus on what’s wrong.
It’s a miserable, shallow, defeating way to live. Certainly not a way to live fully. The moment I turn my eyes toward Jesus however, and begin to thank him not merely my blessings but especially for the trials and struggles and pain of life I find myself in, He changes me. Peace takes over. So does resolve and strength. And I begin to see my circumstances in a different light. I begin to understand that God looks for opportunities to intercede on my behalf- those times when I am feeling hopelessly discouraged and overwhelmed. Right in those dark, troubling times, as I choose to thank and trust Him with my circumstances – He responds to my offering of gratitude with assurance and hope and steadfastness. Oh blessed relief! God loves me and desires to intercede on my behalf. He is our loving, faithful, all knowing Father who desires that we run into His arms.
I want to get better at this- to never step out of this blessed place where my heart can reside at all times.
This is what our kids need to see- parents who believe what God says – parents whose hearts are at peace and not overwhelmed by the circumstances of life – who choose to be grateful for not just their blessings but also their frustrations and hurts and wants- for their worries and anxieties and fear – for their disappointments and failures. Parents who trust God to intercede in all of their lives. This is the kind of faith that will transform your family.
So here is my challenge in this Christmas season.
Certainly be thankful daily for the gift of Jesus. We must never stop being thankful for the gift of eternal life we are granted through our Savior. And be thankful for your blessings: for provision, family, homes, friends, food and even for fresh air. But even more so, choose to be thankful also each time your children fight with each other -each time your spouse lets you down – when your finances can’t cover your bills – when your student presents a failing grade- when your toddler dismantles his room or breaks something precious to you- when your teen hurts your heart- when your project fails – when your friends slander you. Be thankful in everything and thereby be ushered into His gates where your vision is not hindered by the enemy and God lovingly takes you into His arms and addressed your issues on your behalf.
Dare to live fully – right where you find yourself in this moment.
You don’t have to wait for your spouse or kids to change and get their acts together. You don’t have to wait for a job or for provision no matter how dim your circumstances seems. You can live fully right now. Gratitude is our defense against becoming overwhelmed and hopeless- it is God’s will for you and the path by which you walk into His presence where His rest and His peace take over. Not only will your perspective change but in this state, you will be a light of hope for your whole family.