When Thankfulness Seems Impossible

Are you scrounging for thankfulness this Thanksgiving?

Holidays can be a challenge for those walking through hard days. Perhaps you feel like you've been handed the short-end of the stick; your child is struggling, you’re exhausted and it seems like everybody else has life with a bit more gravy.

It’s easy to focus on our circumstances, take stock of what we have and where we are and end up feeling completely void of thankfulness. Is there a cure for this? 

Can we only be thankful when circumstances get better? It’s tempting to think so. But it’s a lie that actually keeps us from true contentment of living in Christ.

It’s the lie that keeps us from realizing what we have and always striving to change the circumstances of life around us.  It’s a lie that makes us forsake Christ’s sufficiency for us.

Journey back to the pages of Acts with me and meet two missionaries, Paul and Silas. They are sitting in a cold, dark, smelly prison. Their crime? They had cast out an evil spirit and set a girl free! Why would God let them be imprisoned when He had power over all things, from evil spirits to locks on cell doors?

Paul and Silas could have sat together and commiserated together. Their conversation could have gone like this: “Where is God? Why would He let this happen to us, weren't we serving Him and doing good? I’m frustrated! I could be doing so many more worthwhile things if I were out of this place? Doesn't God care about my life? Or even my feet, these stocks are painful!”

Sound familiar? I've been guilty of thinking hard thoughts of God during hard times. How did Paul and Silas’ respond to their uncomfortable and dangerous situation?  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” Acts 16:25.

How could they focus on prayer and singing hymns? They looked to God and focused on who He was rather than looking only at themselves and their circumstances. When we look to the Lord, not just for deliverance but to worship our hearts have come to the only place they can be filled. Our circumstances will not fill us. Looking at ourselves will not fill us. Coming to the Almighty God is the only place where our souls can be satisfied. Come with supplication and praise. This can produce thankfulness in the most harrowing of circumstances.

We may not be in a prison of real bars but we may be in a prison of discontent, frustration and despair. There is a way to find joy and thankfulness even in these prisons. Look away from self. Look away from our thanklessness. Look away from the perplexity around us and look to Him. 

Savor the salvation of Jesus and look with expectancy to Him. “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” Psalm 107:9.