When Thankfulness is Hard

Posted by on 11/23/2017 in:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

WE HAVE SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR

It’s Thanksgiving — a holiday centered on family, being grateful, and eating lots of food! At an event like this, it isn’t too hard to think of things to be thankful for. Mashed potatoes are totally on my thankfulness list. . . also my aunt’s mac and cheese. Yum, yum, yum.

Coming up with something to be thankful for should be even easier for Christians. There’s one huge item at the top of our thankfulness list: our reconciliation with God.

Jesus came to earth to die so that we might not only know God, but spend eternity with him in perfection. That’s worth rejoicing over, even if we had nothing else to be thankful for.

BUT SOMETIMES IT ISN’T EASY

Sometimes I read Philippians 4 and I feel so pumped up, like a football player right before going out on the field. I reminisce over Jesus’ life and the ways God has blessed me. I quickly find myself at the Savior’s feet, freely asking for my heart’s desires and praising him for who he is. My love for God flows uncontrollably.

Other times, I read this passage and it leaves me feeling anxious (despite its command to not be anxious). I wonder if it is really true, if God really hears or cares about my requests. I wonder if he can be trusted. I question his goodness because of all the sadness, destruction, and evil I see around me. My heart closes up and even if I wanted to pray, the words won’t come.

Perhaps there are some of you who can resonate with this, too. There are times when prayer and thankfulness are not easy.

HOW DO WE RESPOND?

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. — Philippians 4:8

This Thanksgiving, there are many people mourning a loss, whether that be a loved one, a job, a divorce, a natural disaster, or one of the many mass shootings. It can be easy for us to dwell on the evil, to separate ourselves from God, and to become bitter and angry.

But in Philippians, Paul asks us to meditate on good things. Now, hear me out, I am not saying to stop mourning, or crying, or feeling sad. Oftentimes, those responses are completely justified. Even Jesus cried over Lazarus’ death, knowing that he would bring him back to life. Things are not the way they are supposed to be.

But what if we chose to meditate on Jesus?

Jesus is true, noble, just, pure, and lovely. Jesus wept. Jesus prayed in desperation—and even when he asked for the cup to be taken from him, and it wasn’t, he still praised God. Jesus suffered the greatest injustices and still gave thanks.

What does that mean for us?

Even when God feels distant, apathetic, and confusing, we can look to the person of Jesus for comfort. We know that Jesus is mourning with us—and for that we can thank him.

And that’s all it takes. Remember this one thing to be thankful for—that our God mourns with us—and I pray that this will begin to soften your heart toward God again.

AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE…

If you’re reading this and your response to Philippians fits my first example more than the second, I’m very glad. As you spend time with people this holiday season, be sensitive to those who are mourning. Show them the love and compassion of Jesus by mourning with them.

LET’S SHARE

If you have anything that you are thankful for and would like to share, please leave a comment. We are the body of Christ, and we should encourage one another! Nothing is more uplifting than seeing God work in the lives of those around us.

Most of all, Happy Thanksgiving from us at Olive Tree. We are thankful for you, our users, and your pursuit after God’s heart. May you walk through today knowing are loved by the creator of the universe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *