There is a discipline to true thankfulness. It takes a journey to develop an attitude that is truly thankful for everything.
Are you thankful for everything?
On Sunday, the preacher asked if we are truly thankful. We all ask this question around this time of year. One I think we should ask more often, but that’s not the point I want to make today. So, right there in my chair third row from the front, I asked my heart if I was thankful to God for everything in my life. It’s easy for me to say I am thankful for my family, because they are amazing! I live in a fantastic community and go to a wonderful church. I feel accepted and loved by my friends and I know I belong. But am I grateful for the pain and hard work it took to bring me here? That is a much harder question.
James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Thankful for suffering?
I’ve never understood how I could count all my trials as joy. I’ve really struggled with the concept. About three years ago I began a journey to understanding. I learned that year I have PTSD from some experiences in my younger years. EMDR is specialized therapy used primarily on patients with PTSD and trauma. Therapy is exhausting and can be hard, but I believe healing is worth the struggle. It was instrumental in bringing me healing and health in so many areas. Therapy taught me if I put up walls to protect myself I don’t just keep bad things out, but I also keep bad things inside. Those walls can also keep God out.
This was also the year both my grandfathers passed away within months of each other. It was a tragic loss when my Grandaddy died. As I grieved I learned I had wrapped a good bit of my identity in whether or not my Grandaddy was proud of me. I wanted more than anything in the world to earn my Grandaddy’s approval. After many months of therapy and hours spent in the word, I realized I was striving for something I already had, love and acceptance. I realized the striving I was doing for my Grandaddy’s acceptance was the same striving I was doing for God’s. He freely gives love, acceptance, and also hope. So when my pastor asked on Sunday if I had true thankfulness in my heart, I had to take into consideration the journey I have been on. My world was turned upside down.
Luke 17 tells a story about ten lepers that had an encounter with Jesus. The passage says they cried out “Jesus, Master have mercy on us.” Jesus gave the healing they so desperately desired and sent them on their way to present themselves to the priest. But only one of them turned back and thanked Jesus. This one had a worship service at the Lord’s feet. There is a lot to be said about the other 9 in the story. Why didn’t they go back and at least acknowlede what Jesus did? How long did it take to realize they were healed?
But Luke 17:19 is the verse that really struck me that day. It says, “And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.'” What a miraculous thing! Jesus healed leprocy. But what is more miraculous is the word well can also be translated as saved, or whole. Then it hit me. We can be healed from whatever trials or afflictions we face, but only Jesus can make us whole. Only Jesus can save us.
This last year has been incredibly hard for me. I have been tested and stretched emotionally, physically, and even relationally, yet I am thankful. I am thankful for a God who is unsatisfied with just healing my heart. He wants to see me made whole. James 1:4 says, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Thank you Jesus for loving me enough to make me whole. I lack nothing because I have you!
What are you thankful for today? Are you truly thankful for everything God has given?