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A Pastoral Message: Living a Thankful Life

I am 100% sure of this one thing, God has a special blessing for those who are thankful.  My hope for you and your family is that you will be characterized as the type of people who don’t just “practice” being thankful one day a year; but rather it is just who you are.  Here’s why this is so important….

Becoming a thankful person is an attitude of the heart.  It’s a choice.  It depends on what you choose to focus on.  You can either focus on your problems, or you can focus on your blessings.  I heard about a high school student who was all excited to compete in a high school track meet.  With a top three finish, he would be able to qualify for the state meet.  He got into the starting blocks, the gun went off and he ran with all his might.  Unfortunately he finished fourth.  Not quite good enough to qualify.  He was all down on himself and walked around gloomy for days.  Until one day he met up with a young man who had a physical disability which prevented him from being able to run at all.  The young man asked him about his track meet and the high school student went on and on about his disappointing finish.  Then when there was a pause in their conversation, the young man looked up at him and said very innocently, “I would give anything to be able to run like you.”  

You see, God tells us that “in everything give thanks.”  Notice it doesn’t say to give thanks “for” everything, it says “in” everything.  In other words, we should have the attitude that says, “No matter what’s happening, I’m going to choose to be thankful.  I’m not going to focus entirely on what’s wrong.  I’m going to find something positive in my life.”  You may be sick, but you are thankful that you have a great family.  You may be struggling in your marriage, but you are thankful you have a job.  You may not have gotten the position or promotion you wanted, but you are thankful you have supportive friends.  See the difference?  

We all face difficult situations in life.  No one on earth is exempt from trials.  But we have to discipline ourselves so that we don’t stay focused on the negative. That’s where the mind naturally wants to go. I was talking to someone not long ago who was down and discouraged.  She’d gone through a troubling relationship. She told me, “Nothing’s going right in my life.” She explained how the last two years, she’d been so depressed.  I told her you’ve got to change your focus.  I said, “Look at you, you’re talented, healthy and you’ve got family that loves you.  And yet, you’re allowing this one circumstance, this one person to steal your joy week after week, month after month.”

The fact is that there are some things in life we cannot change on our own, including people.  And if you’re constantly trying to get people to act the way you want them to, you are only going to frustrate yourself.  You’ve got to turn the situation over to God and trust Him to do His part.

Living a “thankful” lifestyle means that you don’t just give thanks for what you have today, but that you are also giving thanks for what you are hoping for in the future.  Gratitude (or being thankful) is thanking God after He does it and faith is thanking God before he does it.  When you are thanking God in advance, you are saying in essence, “God, I’m so sure of your goodness, I’m so sure that you’re working in my life that I’m going to thank you right now for what you are going to do tomorrow!”  

Thank him for opening new opportunities.  Thank him for his protection over your life and your family.  Thank Him for bringing the right people into your life and keeping the wrong people out.  When we thank God in advance, that’s really a declaration of our faith, and faith pleases God and it moves him to take action on our behalf.  And when this happens, God’s special blessing for those who are thankful comes rushing into our lives.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Your Virtual Life Mentor,

Doug

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