Jean Watson ~ The Power of Thanksgiving
I was born on the east coast but moved to Michigan about 15 years ago. At first I had a really difficult time adjusting to the amount of snow that falls here in the winter. The area where I live is called the “snow belt” which means exactly what it says! Moisture collects over Lake Michigan which is then promptly dumped in my driveway – every day from November through March! I did a lot of complaining that first year as I slid through intersections as I drove and got stuck on the side of the road. But one day the Lord asked me to stop complaining about my circumstances. He told me clearly that Michigan was his gift to me, and I needed to thank him for bringing me here. How could this uncomfortable place that I disliked be a gift? It wasn’t until years later I discovered that this cold icy land would one day be a great blessing to me!
Though I didn’t understand at the time, out of reluctant obedience, I began to thank God for Michigan instead of complaining. Each day, I determined to find something to be thankful for rather than complaining. I even started to thank God for the things I didn’t like in my life like the snow and cold!
As I chose to give thanks regardless of my feelings, a miracle happened inside my heart. I discovered that the place I had resented was becoming a place where my desires were fulfilled. I was blessed with a job using my music. My children and I found a house to live in that I loved. I was given a beautiful horse to ride. Even my ministry began to blossom through divine connections I never expected!
The land where I did not want to be was becoming the land of my blessing.
Could thanksgiving have been a key to unlocking this blessing in my life?
In the Bible, the apostle Paul tells us that thanksgiving is not optional. In I Thessalonians 5:18 he said, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Easy for Paul to say, right? Actually, he wrote those powerful words from a Roman prison where he was living with no sanitation, probably surrounded by rats and fleas! How could Paul give thanks in those conditions?
Perhaps he learned from the disciples who had seen Jesus give thanks before he fed the 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. Perhaps he heard how Jesus gave thanks and raised Lazarus from the dead, or how a man with leprosy gave thanks and was made whole! Paul knew that thanksgiving was a way we express faith to the Lord. The word “thanksgiving” literally means “to give grace,” and when we give grace to God, our hearts are prepared to receive his grace and power!
Is there an area of your life where you could use some grace? Today, instead of asking God to change your circumstances, try giving thanks in your circumstances instead. Trust God that he has a purpose for every detail of your life. The very things that are making you uncomfortable could be the very things God will use to bring transformation in you and through you!
Father, forgive me for complaining when things don’t go my way. Help me to be thankful in my circumstances today knowing that You are working all things together for my good! Thank you that as I “give grace” back to you, I know that You can turn my trials into blessings. In Jesus’ name, amen.