I was a small-town girl raised in a coal-mining town in Pennsylvania. At the age of 18, I moved by myself to Washington, DC. I was in DC for a little more than a year and messed up my life with guys, alcohol and drugs. But then one day while I was hitchhiking, God saved me. I prayed the sinner’s prayer with a person who picked me up, not even really understanding what I was doing. But the Holy Spirit came to me, and I could feel Him saying, “You are a new creation now.”
That day I started a change in my life. I started praying, reading my Bible, and going to church three times a week. It’s been almost 38 years since that day. “Thank You, God for saving me and transforming me. Thank You for rescuing this alcoholic. Thank You for redeeming this drug addict. Thank You for forgiving this prostitute. Thank You for giving me a wonderful husband of 32 years and keeping my life on a straight course. Thank You! Thank You! Lord, thank You!”
My youngest daughter, Delaney, is becoming quite the little talker. She’s not quite two years old and attempts to carry on conversations with us all day long. Of course, we only understand every third word or so (just as if we were listening to Ozzy Osbourne). But it sure seems to make sense to her.
One phrase comes through crystal clear, however: “Thank You.” Well the T’s and Y’s sound a lot like D’s, so it comes out more like “Dank dou,” But for Delaney, “Thank You” seems to be a response for all occasions.
“Delaney, did you have a nice nap?”
“No, no, Delaney – no climbing into the dishwasher.”
“Oh, Delaney, that is one stinky diaper!”
Crazy, I know, but perhaps Delaney is on the right track by making “Thank You” her go-to response. Judging from Candy’s story, I bet she would agree. Her story jumped out to me among the thousands I read because of the sheer number of times she wrote the words thank You. One minute she was telling me her story, and the next minute she breaks into a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
I could just picture sitting down with Candy and hearing the story of her life in person. I picture her eyes going back and forth from me to heaven every time she says another “Thank You!” Thorton Wilder wrote, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” One glance at Candy’s story and you can tell that she is living her life conscious of her treasures, and her heart is filled with gratitude.
Is yours? Are you quick to give thanks or to complain? I know what my answer is to that question. Hands down, I complain first. If there were an Olympics for complainers, I would be standing on the center podium accepting the gold medal. I’m the kind of person who can have nine out of ten things in my life going amazingly well, and guess what I will choose to focus on? Without fail, my mind focuses solely on the one thing that is still not quite where I think it should be to be deemed worthy of my gratitude. If you can relate, then we’ve got to try a different approach.
Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” An unthankful heart is at risk of missing out on all that a thankful heart has to offer to your story.
Now, thanking God for the good things is usually not that much of a challenge. Thanking God for the negative circumstances is much less natural. Yet the Bible does not say we should give thanks only in good times. Instead it challenges us, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” How can that be? Thankful for my blessings? Piece of cake. Thankful for my problems? Houston, we have a problem.
Why is it so important to be thankful for our problems? Because when we thank God, our focus shifts from the problem to the solution. To thank God for our problems is to trust that He is big enough to come through for us in any and every circumstance. And the only way to achieve this grateful attitude is to spend time daily in the presence of God. There, in the light of His presence, our problems and circumstances slowly drift into the background as heavenly peace gently alters our perspective.
Practice thankfulness today. Start your quiet time in God’s presence by lifting up gratitude to His great name:
· Thank Him for all He has done. “[I will] daily add praise to praise. I’ll write a book on your righteousness, talk up your salvation the livelong day, never run out of good things to write or say” (Psalm 71:14-15 MSG)
· Thank Him for all He is going to do. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
· Thank Him for His saving grace. “It is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8)
· Thank Him for being God. “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
Thank Him for stories like Candy’s that remind us that we too have so much to be thankful for. Thank Him for bringing the meaning and joy to every chapter in the story of your life. Practice this attitude of thanks in His presence today, and you will discover like Delaney did that “Thank You” is indeed a response for all occasions.
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