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“My Life’s A Shambles. Why Should I Be Thankful?”

be thankful.-Colossians 3:15

When most of America thinks of its blessings, the list will include: family, health, job, food, shelter, freedom and to some degree or another those extras such as nice homes with central air/heat, nice cars, opportunities to travel, etc.  If we are especially thoughtful about it we might include things like the beauty of nature, art, human achievement.  

          For some, however, it’s true, life is a mess.  For most in the world, what we give thanks for are not even things they can hope for.  Even though you might not fit that pattern, I want to ask you to try to answer that question.  For, when all is said and done, all of those things are very fragile, to some degree simply accidents of history.  Is there something more to Thanksgiving than that?

          The Bible says yes, emphatically yes.  In fact, a case might be made that gratitude, thankfulness may be the primary spiritual virtue/value.   Thanksgiving motivates worship, service, and evangelism.  Thanksgiving is the primary ingredient in worship,even the goal of evangelism (II Cor. 2:4 where the gospel is spread so that “thanksgiving might overflow” to the glory of God).  If that is true then there has to be some basis for gratitude that is not dependent on circumstances or the accidents of history.

          In other words if you were stripped of everything what would be left to be thankful for?

          One thing stands at the head of the list:  GOD’S ENDURING LOVE

In OT, when David brought the ark, symbolic of God’s presence, to Jerusalem and a pattern of worship established, a group was specifically designated by name to give thanks to the Lord.  The reason given was that “His love endures forever.”

       That phrase “his love endures forever” is repeated 41 times and almost always in the context of giving thanks to God.  It reaches its climax in that great Psalm 136.

       The inscription on many wedding rings, “love is eternal,” in many cases, is but a romantic notion or wishful thinking.  But with God it the most fundamental and dependable reality.  God’s love lasts forever.

Like the stars belong in the sky
    Like a fish belongs in the water
    Just like children you and I belong in the hands of the Father.
    This is where we belong

    Where you and I were meant to be all along
                made by the Father to live in his love
     It’s the purpose and plan
     For the heart of man. (Steven Curtis Chapman)

That love finds its expression in Jesus Christ.  Your life may be a shambles or incredibly difficult but there is something you can be thankful for—God’s love which never changes.

“Nothing you can do can make God love you any more or any less.” (Phillip Yancey)

Knowing that and giving thanks for it transforms every experience. 

Greg Anderson tells this story of a man whose wife had left him: 

He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God—he found no joy in living.
          One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon.
          In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, “Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?”
          The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, “Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?” And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, “Bow your heads.”
          Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen.”
          That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, “We should do that every morning.”
          “All of a sudden,” said our friend, “my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl’s example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stop majoring in all that I didn’t have. I started to choose happiness.”1

Give thanks!

1(Greg Anderson, LIVING LIFE ON PURPOSE in LEADERSHIP, Fall ’97, 81)

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