On Being Thankful From The Pit
Gratitude hasn’t always been my natural, go-to response.
My parents raised me to thank God for everything I have, but oftentimes I found myself far more focused on my hardships, adversities, and irritations. As you might imagine, this was particularly true during my college years when my childhood Epilepsy returned and forever altered the dynamics of my day-to-day life. There were countless moments when the resentment of not being allowed to drive or live on my own would cause me to erupt in fits of rage or anger — even amongst my own family. To this day, I regret each and every rash word spoken so hastily out of bitterness and exasperation. I know how much my behavior was capable of wounding my parents who were only doing their best to help me in any and every way that they could.
When I had a series of seizures that triggered a months-long battle with eating and weight loss, I was plunged further into a pit of discouragement, anxiety, and confusion. Where was God? How could He allow this to happen? Seizures and driving handicaps were bad enough, but now I was fighting neuropsychological issues surrounding food consumption as well. Nothing about this seemed right. Nothing about it seemed fair. To say that it was “frustrating” would be the understatement of a lifetime. For an on-the-go college student with a “conquer the world” attitude having my independency stripped away was enough to inspire me to punch a few walls and say a some choice words.
Of course, focusing on my miseries only left me feeling all the more miserable.
Thankfulness As A Weapon
I’ve since learned that counting my blessings — and being grateful for what I do have — ushers in an entirely new perspective on the circumstances, issues, or even people I might normally view as frustrations and annoyances. When I started focusing more on the incredible things with which God had blessed me — a loving and supportive family, great friends, a good church, reliable income, grace and salvation, the promise of Eternity with Jesus Christ — everything once deemed frustrating faded to nothingness. It was like going to war with my frustrations and defeating them all in one fell swoop. They were no more. I felt far more content despite the fact that the difficulties, tensions, and hardships were still present.
The very act of being thankful points our souls to a God who commands us Himself to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) because it is “the will of God in Christ Jesus.” He expects us to exude thankfulness even when we’re frustrated; even when we’re discouraged; even when we find ourselves in the deepest and darkest depths of the pit. In fact, there’s another command in Colossians 3:16-17:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
And yet another from the Psalmist:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” — Psalm 100:4
When we exercise this level of thankfulness — focusing more on Christ and His goodness and glory than our own circumstances or petty frustrations — we can overwhelm and vanquish the Enemy and change our entire perspective. Why bother worrying about the aggravating situations and people in our lives when life and all that we have and are in Christ is so much bigger?
The Gratitude That Supersedes Everything
Thanksgiving is spectacularly healthy and overwhelmingly refreshing for our souls. “It is good [for us] to give thanks to the Lord.” (Psalm 92:1) I never would’ve chosen this path for my life, and there are many problems in and around me that I would love to solve, but God has a reason for them all. And although there are those who might say my current circumstances are dismal and depressing, I know I can be excited about what the future holds because I’m held, loved, and led by the God who is continually writing my future and faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
And that fact alone is powerful enough to conquer, destroy, overwhelm, and overpower any spiritual force of darkness Satan can conjure up, much less a difficult trial, circumstance, or petty annoyance. So be happy. Be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving.