Have you ever thought to yourself, "What on earth in my life is there to be thankful for?" Maybe it's always too hot or too cold for you. Maybe your children or siblings are fighting. Maybe you're stuck in a job you hate. On those days- how can you be thankful?
Confession time- I just finished the worst month of feeling unhappy with my siblings that I think I have ever had in my entire life. And that includes when we were little. It seemed like everything they did got on my nerves. I would feel myself getting annoyed, and in an effort to not lose it I would say something quick and sharp. As I would say it, I would chide myself, "Way to go, Nikitah. You just got an F in Siblings Harmony class." I knew what I was saying, but I couldn't bring myself to stop that little comment from slipping out. I felt unhappy and ticked off all the time. There was nothing to be thankful for.
You know how you are going through something and it seems like suddenly everyone is talking/preaching/singing about your problem? Yeah, well, in case you didn't know: that's a God thing. A couple of weeks after the bad feelings started infiltrating my life, Dad preached on Striving To Enter Into God's Rest. Ok, well, maybe that didn't fit entirely what was going on, but it poked at me. And then Chip Ingram started a broadcast series on Overcoming Emotions That Destroy. During that series, I was still in denial, but things were really starting to prick. And then the most random message of all just burst the bubble- his message Don't Ask Why, Ask What in his Rebuilding Your Broken World series. What really got me in that message was the quote by Dr. Viktor Frankl:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”My attitude! Was there something wrong with it, honestly? Wasn't it just that people were doing things that they knew I didn't like? A little while later I read something on the True Woman's website where Erin Davis talked about how her family had a case of the grumps. She said she fixed it by praying this verse:
"You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound." -Psalm 4:7Is it really that easy to change what you feel about your circumstances? Could just being thankful- and desiring joy- do the trick? I purposed to find out. First, I wrote down Psalm 4:7, Luke 16:10, James 1:12, 1:19, 3:6, and Ephesians 4:29. Underneath those, I wrote a little message for myself: "'Speak life' rather than 'speaking bitterness'." Next, I started forcing myself to write down every day ten things I am thankful for. And soon I was adding things I wasn't thankful for to that list. Just consciously making the effort to feel thankful for those things (or an aspect of those things) made a huge difference.
Now, am I totally out of the "doldrums" yet? Not entirely- and I suspect I will struggle with this my entire life. Every day I have to go back to my verses and have to write a new list. Is it worth it? Yes, yes it is. I'm not snapping at the people I love.
So I encourage you- if you have something that is keeping you from feeling the joy that Christ died to give you, sit down. Write some verses that deal with your problem- because it probably won't be the same as mine. Write that list of ten things. And then keep going back to them.
I think you'll be glad you did.