We were sitting on a bass boat in El Salto, Mexico, and had just cast our lines into the water. It was a gorgeous morning and the sun was coming up behind the Sierra Madre Mountains. The scenery was breathtaking, and I marveled at the beauty God had created. It was as if He were painting a majestic picture, just for us. I thanked God for the beauty that surrounded us.
Stephen and I had slipped away for a few days to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary. I was thankful for the opportunity to get away and to relax. As I fished, I thanked God for my husband, the fun we have together, thanked Him for the redemption He had brought into my life. I was truly grateful for all God’s provision in my life. I thanked Him for His great love for me.
With the sun rising above the mountains, I began to reflect on my past and the adversity I had experienced and how different my life is now. I saw the adversity as scars I had, and thought of how those scars had reshaped me and each told a story of the goodness of God in my life. I thanked God for the scars because without the scars, I would not have known the heart of God like I do today.
Ephesians 5:20 states, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Scripture tells us to always be grateful and thankful in all circumstances. Sometimes that is hard to do because the future is uncertain or our adversity is just plain difficult. It is easy to be thankful when things are going our way.
God in His wisdom tells us to be thankful, therefore, it must be good for us. This goes against our society, which oftentimes, feels entitled to an easy life. This entitlement produces an attitude of thinking we deserve something, and bitterness can set in, when things do not turn out the way we envisioned. This attitude can keep us self-centered and keeps our focus on the negative, versus what we can give thanks for in difficult circumstances.
God’s ways are often uncommon to our thoughts in our self-centered culture.
Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV) God knows what is best for us.
Casting my rattletrap into the still water, I reflected on how hard it was to give thanks after losing my late husband. Back in those days, I felt like my life was over. The negative outlook I battled was not easy, however, when I looked for what I was grateful for, it helped my outlook on life.
About all I could think of to give thanks for was what I was going to learn during this difficult season. Each of us has an opportunity to press into God during our adversity, and God is a great teacher. He will lead us and teach us great things that can help us, and eventually, help those around us.
Thanksgiving declares our trust in God and begins to adjust our focus and our attitude and emotions. II Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and though us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” (NIV)
Step by step, God has led me during many days of adversity. Some have been small and others have been life changing. All of us deal with hard things in life and how we approach difficulty, can become an opportunity or a stumbling block.
Whatever your circumstances are right now, take a moment to give thanks. You can always begin with thanking God that you are loved. Psalms 107:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good and his love endures forever.”
You can also be grateful for what God will teach you, as you depend on Him and can thank Him that He will lead you in victory, as you trust Him.
Thanksgiving draws us into the presence of God or close to Him, and that changes us. Psalms 100:4 encourages us and states, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” (NIV) Thankfulness opens our heart and gets brings our emotions and thinking into alignment.
Ten years ago, I would have never have dreamed I would be sitting on a boat in Mexico, enjoying bass fishing with a new man in my life. God creates beauty in the ashes of life and works in ways we cannot always see.
We had some great days of fishing, catching over 65 fish several days and 152 the last day. Many were four to six pounders. I am thankful for the quiet hours to sit on the water, still my soul and reflect on the goodness of God.
Thanksgiving is not meant to be just a holiday in November for Americans to celebrate. It is meant to be a lifestyle that is good for us. This year, look for the uncommon things you can be thankful for, as well as all the good things you see in your life.
Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie is a native of the Hill Country, a writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God and their value. You can listen to her podcast at kathleenmaxwellrambie.podbean.com and contact her at email@example.com or www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com.