Remember to Thank God
by Janice Price
Thanking God has been the theme of my day. Sometimes God needs to remind me of who I am, where I have been, and what an ungrateful person I can be. On occasion he really brings me up short, with memories I try to bury and forget.
Life isn’t always easy but contentment and happiness don’t come from our circumstances. They come from above, as we learn to be content with where we are and what God has given us in this life. It’s too easy to concentrate on the negatives.
God wants us to concentrate on the positives, but I have a problem with the sticky, sweet, I’ll-smile-if-it-kills-me-because-it-proves-I’m-a-Christian type of Christianity. I believe we should smile because God gives us peace and contentment in our circumstances, despite our circumstances, not because we feel we have to force ourselves to do it.
I didn’t reach this conclusion overnight. It has taken many years of enduring trials, making mistakes and existing rather than living. The road to living has been arduous, steep and circuitous. It still is but I am leaning less on my own strength and stamina and more on Christ as I travel the road.
I enjoy volunteer work, but a paycheck would do wonders for my self-esteem. God reminds me of all those years when I wasn’t able to attend church, let alone hold a full time job. I worked temporary jobs as frequently as possible. Those were difficult years, each day filled with the what-if fear. Yet, I saw God provide in surprising ways. And volunteering wasn’t even a remote possibility.
I long for the day when I have an income of my own and don’t have to depend on the generosity and kindness of others to make it through the month. God reminds me that whatever I have is from him, no matter whose hands are extended to offer it. He doesn’t give anything to me because I deserve it or because he owes it to me. Rather, I owe everything to him.
I am driving an old car with the most uncomfortable driver’s seat anyone could imagine. The car needs repairs. God reminds me that it was only five years ago I was walking, pulling heavy loads up and down these hills in a small cart. The car was given to me by my brother after he entered the hospital for the last time.
I can’t wear pretty, feminine shoes any more. God reminds me that there was a time I had no winter coat, the heater in the car didn’t work, and my winter shoes were sandals with spaghetti straps. They were the only shoes my size in the drugstore when my old shoes fell apart and I needed a new pair on a Sunday night to wear to work the next day. Then one day, out of the blue, a package arrived from Mother with a lined, hooded winter jacket and enough money to shop for a pair of proper shoes.
Mother needs my physical help today. Hauling supplies up and down all those steps is heavy work. It has been hard for her to adjust to the reversal of roles and we are still working on creating a peaceable relationship. God reminds me of the years I needed physical help, but I didn’t have anyone to depend on and could barely take care of my own needs. I pray for a servant’s heart and the stamina to be there for her.
My breathing becomes labored, my muscles spasm, and my pain level rises in this cold weather. The same is true in hot weather, humid weather or rainy weather. God reminds me of those years of debilitating, unrelenting pain and sleep deprivation. The memories of those years are still raw, but that period helped to shape me into the person I am today. I should have more compassion now for others who are hurting.
I used to consider my glass to be just a drop or two short of empty. Now I see it as closer to being topped off. I still have fibromyalgia – and, supposedly, asthma. My energy level still plummets into the sewer. But I am alive and growing. I’m growing rounder physically, but I hope I’m growing up spiritually.
Life has changed in the past few years. I type on a computer instead of a typewriter and I write stories to uplift and encourage others. I have stepped so far out of my comfort zone it scares me, yet I believe God is leading me to stretch my boundaries. I imagine there are even greater changes to come.
God is teaching me to see life through different eyes - spiritual eyes. And as my perspective on life changes, my perspective on God changes, too.
He has been faithful. He has provided for me, sent help in various ways, and he never gave up on me, not even in those desperate times when I wanted to give up on life. It didn’t seem possible my circumstances could ever change.
Take a moment to reflect on who God is and what he has done in your life. Then remember to thank him.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
© 2005 Janice Price