What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday? My younger sister shared those words with me and it made me pause. No, it made me stop and question myself. “Doneta, Just what did you thank God for yesterday?” The words humbled me. How thankful am I?
When newly working the retail market I would have a vendor visit and ask, “So, what’s selling?” Even though he had reports and spreadsheets on the sales, the question was always asked directly. Often I would respond with specifics, but sometimes it was, “A little of this and a little of that.” At those times his reply would be, “Oh everything in general and nothing in particular? Well, let’s see what the numbers say.”
Part of that conversation came back to me as I mentally checked off my recent thank you prayers and I wondered how often I just say a thank you to God for “everything in general and nothing in particular”? I recalled a Thanksgiving Eve service where the Pastor challenged us to thank our Lord for the specifics in our lives. He literally called off each letter of the alphabet and asked the congregation to shout the answers out loud. It wasn’t just “A” for apple. It was “Adirondacks”, my road “Atlas” (remember this as before GPS). It wasn’t just “B” bread. It was “Baked Wheat Bread”, “Bach”, “Beethoven”. Not just “M” music. It was “Martin Luther’s hymns”, Marigolds. Ah, the specifics in life!
When was the last time I thanked God for the wonderful smell of fresh rain; for each of the ladies (by name) in my Monday night bible study; for my 1999 Honda; for His unbelievable grace given each day and never withheld even when I fail to bless Him for it? Even greater than the “thank you” after, when was the last time I thanked God “before”? Recall Matthew 14:19 (NIV) “Then Jesus told the people to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish. He looked into the sky and thanked God for the food. Then he broke the bread into pieces, which he gave to the followers, and they gave the food to the people.” Jesus thanked His father for the food [Matthew gives specifics here 5 loaves, 2 fish] before the miracle occurs. He knew His father would supply. Do I share that same confidence, or do I wait until “after”; to see if God really comes through? Ouch.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5 verse 20 admonishes, “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus.” Everything? Really? Wow Lord, that’s a tough one – thank you for everything; even the hard, the difficult? If I am truthful, my nature rebels at the thought. How do I say thank you for the loss, the pain, the hurt that I’ve faced or that I have seen others struggle with? How easy it is, how much more readily the words come when I have a “good” day; a “happy” day. But to say thank you if the day was just awful, dark, discouraging? Is that what you mean Lord?
Perhaps a more honest approach (and it took some soul searching on my part) is this: it is the very difficult and painful times where I have grown spiritually; because it is through those times, when my heart was wounded that my Lord has drawn me closer and given me His strength. It is those days when I cry out and admit I cannot, do not want to do this on my own; it is in those minutes of honesty with my Father where I can let go and let Him be my support. I truly can tell you that in the very difficult times I am never alone. I am reassured of His presence; in His word, in my conversations with Him, in the support of my Christian family. He loves me too much to always give me the sunny, the good, the happy because His wisdom knows I need all kinds of days (whatever label I place on them) to appreciate being His child.
Lord, help me to approach you and each day with an attitude of gratitude, and say thank you in expectation of all that you will do and provide.
Blessings to you from A to Z! Doneta