Thankful Always!

Thankful Always!

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            Generally, folks regard November as a month of thanksgiving, especially the latter part of the month. However, one’s orientation will determine what thanksgiving means. Accordingly, I offer a few thoughts for consideration.
 
Gratitude - A State of Mind
The Apostle Paul enjoins us “to give thanks always.” What does that mean? Is one being called upon to give thanks under all circumstances? How can one be positive when he or she has been afflicted with pain as result of the murder of a promising son? How can a person be thankful when he or she has been made redundant and Christmas is nearing? How can one be thankful when sickness and attending costs prevail? Notwithstanding the aforementioned, we can be grateful and positive!
 
Gratitude Does Not Condone Wrong Doing
Being thankful is not akin to condoning wrongdoing when one displays gratitude under trying conditions. Gratitude does not mean that one will not experience pain, as it is only human to do so. However, a spirit of gratitude teaches one to look for the good even in every negative case. Consider Paul who advocated thankfulness always. In the book Ephesians he is in prison, a place not known to be a pleasant and welcoming environment, nonetheless he describes it as being “in heavenly places.” It was not the place but the mindset, cognizant of Christ’s presence, adopted by the Apostle that made the difference. The same experience can be ours. Flip the coin and think: had Paul taken the negative approach, he would have risen no higher than his thoughts; and life would have been one of numerous complaints and lacking in fulfillment and purpose as designed by God.
 
Life Is Not Always Predictable
Life does not offer a bed of roses, children without issues, spouse without fault, or perfect church members. Politicians and preachers; maids and mathematicians; athletes and astronauts -all have shortcomings, for they are all human. So the reality is that as long as we live with another person, we will have days of disappointments and frustration. It is possible that if you have not lost a relative, it is likely to happen, as death is real and part of our lot. So if I accept these realities of life –choosing not to dwell on the negatives- I am more likely to find the good all around and certainly in spouse, child, friend and colleagues. Whatever we look for we will find. It is said that gold miners in South Africa sift through tons of dirt to find precious diamonds, but some persons pass precious diamonds looking for dirt.
 
Potential to Change
Change to positive thinking and action is possible in every situation, otherwise the Bible is a myth and Christians are mistaken. I choose to think positively, for within each person, even the ones creating havoc and instilling fear in our land is potential for good. It may require you or me to elevate the thinking of such persons to see their God-given potential as something for good. Each person is designed for greatness, as each has been entrusted with talents and abilities possibly untapped and yet to be recognized and cultivated. Christian writer Ellen White explains, “If human beings would open the windows of the soul heavenward, in appreciation of the divine gifts, a flood of healing virtue would pour in” (MH 116.1). Additionally, White says that, “Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise” (MH 251.1).
 
Application
This period of thanksgiving can translate into a daily and lasting experience when I begin to embrace a thankful disposition- choosing to look for the good in others and in me. Sometimes we can find it most difficult to forgive ourselves. Can you imagine if many of us would decide to be thankful and engage in thanks-living? Our nation would experience a positive turn-around. Too many persons are angry –angry with parent, sibling or friend, as one might have been betrayed or abused by a trusted one. True, there might be a reason to be angry, especially at the high rate of murders in our country, but being upset unnecessarily and remaining that way stands to ruin our lives. We need to release some things and move on. Medical Research indicates ‘That positive emotions lead to biochemical changes in the body.” St. Francis of Assissi says, “Help me to change the things that I can and to accept the things that I cannot change.”