15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
Thanksgiving is a choice. And there is nothing that will positively impact your life more than the choice to be thankful. God calls us to give thanks in all circumstances in these verses because He knows when we shift our thoughts away from what we need to what we have, our anxieties fall away, our anger dissipates, and our despair lifts. That’s worth repeating - give thanks in ALL circumstances. Not some, but all. Give thanks for the cancer diagnosis, give thanks for the broken marriage, or the tensions around the table, give thanks for the unemployment, give thanks for the trials.
We spend so much time in life focused on what we want and what we need, rather than being content with what we have. We work and we strive, we plan and we even pray - all for the things we don’t have. Our world constantly reminds us of all the ways we fall short, and the target keeps moving. You just need to flip on the TV or scroll through Facebook to feel as if something or some relationship is missing from your life. A TV show can grow your discontent for your home, a FB photo can grow your discontent for your family or your life. We are a people who want what we don’t have.
Discontent is a dangerous path to walk. It begins with comparing our lives to others, and it can end with despair over our shortcomings. So many of our trials, our anxieties, and our struggles stem from discontentment. We fight and we struggle against the blessings we have been given, choosing to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we have been given.
As we mature in our spiritual walk, we learn the valuable lesson: we can't live to meet all our "needs" and live to serve Christ at the same time. We place so many things in the needs category that we really don't need for life. The truth is we often consider many of those things that we "must have" in order to be happy the same as needs. Many of our “must haves” may be sweet blessings from God, but they are not necessary for life. The problem enters when we start naming those must haves as needs - I need to be respected or I need to have a husband who is walking with Christ. When we name it as a need, we begin to demand it or expect it, and eventually we end up evaluating the love of God based on whether or not He fulfills our "needs."
When we stop worrying about all those things we must have, and we find contentment in what God has given us, we are free to truly focus on the work of God's kingdom. He gave us life. Anything beyond that is a bonus. And if He’s already given us the greatest gift of all, don’t we trust that He is giving us exactly what we need? When we truly believe He gives us everything we need to face every situation He's placed in front of us, and and that He is actively committed to giving us everything we need, our hearts begin to change. When grace causes our hearts to rest in these truths, we are no longer slaves to our needs, but rather free to give ourselves to the worship and service of God. When we have a heart of Thanksgiving for all He has done for us, we find the peace that surpasses all understanding.
The reality is God is sovereign over every aspect of our lives. When your heart dwells in discontentment for your situation, you are essentially telling God that He somehow got it wrong - He gave you the wrong children, the wrong husband, job, house, sister. The God who created this universe didn’t get anything wrong - you are exactly where you need to be, dealing with exactly the situation you need, in order to reveal your sinful discontent. Capture the discontent, and bring it obedient to Christ with a heart of Thanksgiving, then watch the blessings flow.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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