It seems like we are expected to complain about something. What would we talk about if we were not whining about something or someone. Yet what we fail to grasp is the personal and relational cost of being unthankful. Let me offer a simple question. “Have you given thanks today more than you have complained?” The Bible calls Jesus followers to be people that focus on the blessings of life, even in the midst of difficult times.
I was recently watching an interaction with a gal that had issues with her dad. The issues stemmed from hard feelings and abandonment issues because of his drug related problems. She was angry at this man because she loved him so much. The counselor challenged her to thank for him the good things if she was going to blame him for the bad things. First off, she was a beautiful young woman and her dad does get some credit for that. She also learned to persevere in the midst of adversity and has grown strong. If she had not faced these issues she would not be where she is today. Her dad, even as an absentee father, has contributed to her strength. I was reminded that the difficulties in our lives are there to make us stronger. One of the major costs of being un-thankful is that we miss these opportunities to grow!
A second cost of un-thankfulness is that we miss the opportunity for healing. Our un-thankful heart enslaves us to bitterness, anger and resentment. We become trapped in a place of discouragement and depression when we focus on all that is wrong. Yet we are reminded again and again to focus on God’s blessing in our life. There is always something to be able to be thankful for, even if it is you are saved by God’s grace (and many times there are other blessing we are missing.) Jesus reminds us that we are blessed when we are persecuted and should rejoice because of our relationship with Him! The Apostle Paul along the same line reminds us rejoice in the Lord always. We are reminded that choosing to be thankful strengthens us.
A third cost of un-thankfulness is that we alienate those blessings in our lives. I am thinking about how we push those people and things away that would bring us great joy. Our focus on the “problem person” causes us to alienate the “blessed people” surrounding us. It also causes those “blessed people” to distance themselves intentionally or unintentionally. Our choice to focus on all that is wrong blinds us to seeing the blessing all around us!
The gal I mentioned earlier took the challenge to heart and with great difficulty called her dad to say “thank you” for things that made her who she is. The short story is, their relationship was restored before he passed away 6 months later. This week we celebrate “Thanksgiving.” Let me encourage you to go out of your way to identify those missed blessings in your life, even if it involves someone that has hurt you. If you have opportunity, you might even “thank them.” It might be the first step in rebuilding your relationship but it will transform you! Happy Thanksgiving!
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson