This is a very difficult time for many. "Thankfulness" is difficult unless we have trained our minds and hearts. This skill is very valuable to find peace and joy. Let's look at three principles to develop "Thankfulness" in our lives.
Many of us have been isolating with our families in confined spaces for an extended period of time. In times like these there is a lot we are missing. Students are not able to participate in traditions of graduation. Sporting evens have been cancelled, birthdays are limited to immediate family while excluding our closest friends and extended family. Our church services have been moved online avoiding the time to connect with one another in hugs and handshakes. Being thankful can be difficult in times like these.
In Thessalonians chapter five verse fourteen we are encouraged to practice patience. "All good things come to those who wait." this is not scripture but a phrase coined by Violet Fane in her poem 'Tout vient a qui sait attendre'. Those who are patient and persistent will eventually reap the rewards for their efforts.
It has been a challenge teaching our girls the value of waiting and saving for something rather than getting something small immediately. We have encouraged the girls to choose a large item to save towards. When the girls help with extra work around the house we track their earnings on a board in the kitchen. They can watch their earnings grow over time, but often a few pieces of candy now, wins over their ambitions for the larger item. They have the freedom to spend their money whenever they want, but they will never reach their goal at that pace. Hopefully, we are teaching them patience and its reward.
Patience teaches us discipline motivated by hope. This discipline develops a skill of thankfulness. We become thankful for the opportunities to reach our goals. We see the value in discipline and its relationship in achieving those goals. Patience allows time to be "Thankful".
Sacrifice is painful. Jesus told us in the book of Matthew chapter sixteen verse twenty-four, "Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Following Jesus requires crucifixion of many dark and evil things in our lives. It also includes killing our need to put ourselves first. This is kindness. The power or ability to encourage or lift someone up is kindness.
The art of putting others first is not easily mastered. It goes against our instincts. It takes strength to fight our natural impulses to preserve self. This is why it's a sacrifice. It hurts and requires effort.
This skill allows us to see the good in all circumstances. This muscle must be worked and strengthened to uncover the blessings hidden in terrible situations. "The Hiding Place" tells the story of Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy while they were in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. The two girls learned the blessing of fleas. Disgusted by the infested barracks, the supervisor stayed away allowing them to pray and practice freedom without fear inside their barracks.
The ability to be thankful in the horrific conditions of the concentration camp was developed from the kindness the girls showed one another. It was rooted in a "Thankful" mind. They had been taught to practice kindness over the years developing this skill. The strength they had, to endure the horrors they witnessed, is beyond my understanding.
The "Thankful" mind is developed. It's a skill or muscle that must be mastered over time through repetition.
The discipline of prayer makes requests on behalf of others. We are mindful of needs and blessings. It's a time of reflection and humility. We acknowledge we are not living life alone. We are blessed with the presence of our Father in heaven, the community around us, and close relationships cultivating goodness in our lives.
This discipline of reflection gives us the opportunity to view the world through patience and kindness revealing a thankful heart. As these skills are strengthened the ability to be thankful in all circumstances becomes easier.
During this time, I have been thankful to spend time with my family.
I am thankful for the time I have had take walks around the neighborhood in the cool of the evening.
I am thankful to be healthy.
Above all, I am thankful for the opportunities to develop patience, kindness and prayer over the years. Thank you God for your grace, mercy, and goodness.
May thankfulness become second nature to you, as a disciple of Christ.
In His Service and yours,