When thieves robbed Matthew Henry, he still found something to be thankful for. He wrote these words about this traumatic event in his life: “Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” You do not need to be an English author or non-conformist Presbyterian preacher like Matthew Henry to have an attitude of thankfulness. Thankfulness is a choice you can personally carry with you today.
How can a person have something bad happen to him and still have an attitude of thankfulness?
One of the best Thriving Skills to carry with you each day is thankfulness. Our top carry items so far are the Word, Prayer, Fellowship with other Christians, and Witnessing the Gospel to others. Being thankful sets a good pace and perspective for surviving any trauma or evil event that may happen to you. A Thankfulness attitude is something you can carry every day that can help you get through even the most difficult circumstances.
Erwin Lutzer was spot on when he said, “A Christian who walks by faith accepts all circumstances from God. He thanks God when everything goes good, when everything goes bad, and for the “blues” somewhere in-between. He thanks God whether he feels like it or not.”
Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Since God’s peace is something the Christian apparently can and should have in his life each day, according to this verse, we can also infer that thankfulness is something that he can have in his heart each day as well. And. Be. Ye. Thankful.
The Apostle Paul is writing this verse while in prison, waiting to see Caesar for his trial. The Book of Colossians is one of the four “Prison Letters“, along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. Imagine being in prison, and writing letters to people about the theme of thankfulness. There is always a silver lining; there is always something to be thankful about.
This concept of thankfulness is something that Paul practiced throughout his life. Once, when in prison in the city of Phillipi, Paul and his friend, Silas, were praying and singing praises to God with thankful hearts. They were singing songs at midnight. The Lord showed up, the earth shook, the shackles and prison doors opened, and Paul and Silas sat there. This impressed the prison guard so much that he trusted Christ for salvation, and his whole family turned to Jesus and His gospel. That’s the impact a thankful attitude can have. You can read about the Phillipian Jailor in Acts 16.
Thankfulness Can Calm Your Heart. Learning to trust the Lord, having faith in His sovereign power can calm your anxious heart when things go wrong. God is still God. Nothing can change Him. Nothing can change His love for you. Let God’s peace rule, guide, or control your heart and life. Thankfulness is a part of this “peace.”
Thankfulness Can Guide Your Decisions. Since God’s love is unchanging and your heart is being calmed by reminding yourself of His love for you, your decisions can be thought out more clearly. Instead of being guided by fear, shame, “fate” or guilt, your life is being guided by God’s grace that is embraced more readily, when you have a thankful attitude.
Thankfulness Can Find God’s Plan. When we are trusting God in every circumstance, we can fully discover His plan. When we complain, we miss god’s will. When we criticize we are essentially saying “I can do better than what God is allowing right now.” When we are arrogant, we skip over God’s best for us. Being thankful is being humble enough to trust God, attribute thanksgiving to Him, and then find His “Big Picture” plan for your life.
A thankful Christian will not be a “Johnny Raincloud,” counting only what is wrong. A thankful Christian will embrace the Lord, giving thanks to His name in good times and in bad times.
Make a thanksgiving list if you need to. Don’t wait for the “Thanksgiving Season.” Give thanks to God – Every Day! Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way:
“For each new morning with its light,
Father, we thank thee,
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank thee,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything thy goodness sends,
Father, in heaven, we thank thee.”