A few thoughts about thanks-giving as we approach the American holiday of Thanksgiving:
I believe thanksgiving is not something we DO, but something we ARE. I shared a story this past Sunday about a 92 year woman who somehow knew she loved her new room at the nursing home before even seeing it. When asked how that was possible, she said, “It isn’t how the room is arranged – but how my mind is arranged. I have already decided I’m going to love it.”
Of course, arranging your mind in a positive way won’t always change the circumstances of your life. Keeping your chin up won’t keep your company from closing, or sickness and death from interrupting your life. Being thankful doesn’t preclude a person from experiencing all the bumps and bruises that are part and parcel of the human experience. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference!
Being in and out of hundreds of hospital rooms over the course of my ministry, I have noticed a recurring pattern. Those who seem most appreciative of the care they receive seem to get even better care. Those who have nothing good to say – about the food, or their care, or anything else – often discover they really do have things to complain about. I’m not sure if it’s because the medical staff do their best to avoid the “squeaky wheels,” or if a black cloud really does seem to hover over certain people wherever they go. But I can’t help but believe attitude has something to do with it.
Fortunately, we are not alone in the struggle to remain positive in a sometimes overwhelmingly negative world. Through the love and power of God, we can choose ahead of time to live a life of joy and peace. For those born with what seem like perpetually happy dispositions, this is just another piece of good news in a world filled with good news. For those naturally predisposed the other way – this news can make all the difference.
I once had a friend who, had she relied solely on her natural responses and feelings, would have likely not had a friend in the world. Her default mode was angry, cynical and judgmental. But she knew this about herself and therefore surrendered her life, her will, and her feelings to God. I remember watching as the battle would rage within her. What made her such an amazing human being was that God (almost) always won out. She was a true servant of God. With God’s help, she was a beacon of light and an example of the power of faithful obedience.
Thanksgiving is coming. Some will look forward to the holidays with eager anticipation. Others, for whatever reason, might anxiously anticipate another season of loneliness and grief. But regardless of your situation, you can decide now to be thankful. You can decide now to lean on God and discover “peace that passes human understanding.” With God, ALL things are possible!