Sometimes It’s Hard to Be Thankful!

sad-african-american-teen-14797813I hope all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving, and an opportunity to reflect on all you have to be thankful for.

After all, this season of Thanksgiving is when we’re all encouraged to focus on the things we have to be grateful or thankful for. But what about people who are suffering or have suffered great loss or heartache during this past year. I imagine it could be very difficult to find things to be grateful for when one is in the throws of a great trial.

It’s easy to be thankful when life is smooth, but what about when things aren’t so good?

I can’t speak for every situation, but I can speak for one that I’m close to. I’ve got a good friend with a heart of gold who just recently lost his 12 year old son to a horrific car accident. How does one going through the amount of hurt and loss that he’s feeling find things to be grateful for? I think it really depends on the individual.

One of the first things my friend said through great tears is, “This doesn’t affect my belief in God, but I’m mad as hell at Him”.  I imagine that is how  Horatio Spafford, who wrote the song, “It is Well With My Soul” felt.  And that’s okay. Our God is a big God and He feels our hurt, and understands us better than we do ourselves. He’s got big shoulders, and loves us through it all. And I don’t doubt at all that God was very sad for the loss of that boy, and the others in the car with him. As hurting as my friend was and still is, one thing he kept saying is, “I’m thankful for my family and friends; and 12 years of having his little boy in my life”.

I’ve met people who having gone through a big trial have turned their back on God. They wanted nothing to do with a God who would allow terrible tragedy or trials to happen to them. “Well, if that’s God’s will, I want nothing to do with it”. What these poor people don’t understand is that it’s not God’s will that a car full of youths are killed in a terrible accident. It’s not God’s will that you go through a messy divorce, lose a limb, or that one is cut short in the prime of their life.

As Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived said in Eccl. 9:11 I returned and saw under the sun that The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.

That’s a very important concept that we need to consider in life, time and chance can happen to us all. It doesn’t make trials and tragedies any easier to accept, but blaming God is not the answer. It’s times like this we need to embrace God with everything we have just to get through such times.

My friend will never get over the loss of his young son, and who could? But in time, he will find it a little easier to deal with. And in time I’m sure he will find more and more things to be thankful for. I’m sure of this because he’s a great guy which is apparent from all the friends and family that love to be around him so much.

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A Proclamation

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

While contemplating this time of Thanksgiving, and preparing a Bible study this past week I came across the below proclamation from our 35th President of the United States of America. I was very impressed and touched by what I read, and wanted to share it with you.  There was a time in our Country when most people looked outside of themselves, and had a common gratitude to the One who bestowed so many blessing upon us.  Unfortunately those times have changed.  We as a people, a government and a country have now become imbued with our own self-importance.  We no longer look to the Creator who has given us all things, we instead look to the creation, worshiping the works of our hands and the institutions of mankind.

I’ll have more to say about this later this week, but for now, please read the below proclamation and consider the words carefully.

 

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God.

So too when the colonies achieved their independence, our first President in the first year of his first Administration proclaimed November 26, 1789, as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God” and called upon the people of the new republic to “beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue . . . and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

And so too, in the midst of America’s tragic civil war, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November 1863 as a day to renew our gratitude for America’s “fruitful fields,” for our “national strength and vigor,” and for all our “singular deliverances and blessings.”

Much time has passed since the first colonists came to rocky shores and dark forests of an unknown continent, much time since President Washington led a young people into the experience of nationhood, much time since President Lincoln saw the American nation through the ordeal of fraternal war–and in these years our population, our plenty and our power have all grown apace. Today we are a nation of nearly two hundred million souls, stretching from coast to coast, on into the Pacific and north toward the Arctic, a nation enjoying the fruits of an ever-expanding agriculture and industry and achieving standards of living unknown in previous history. We give our humble thanks for this.

Yet, as our power has grown, so has our peril. Today we give our thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers–for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek every day to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.

Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings–let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals–and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.

Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of the Congress approved December 26, 1941, 55 Stat. 862 (5 U.S.C. 87b), designating the fourth Thursday of November in each year as Thanksgiving Day, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 1963, as a day of national thanksgiving.

On that day let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-eighth.

JOHN F. KENNEDY

Appreciating Others

two kittens in shoes "you + me = friendship captionRe-posted from August 2012.

Dale Carnegie, in his book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People” wrote: One of the most neglected virtues of our daily existence is appreciation.

I wonder why that is?

You would think the virtue of appreciation would be tantamount in our dealings with others, as we ourselves crave it so deeply. If you believe that not to be true, let me ask you a couple questions.

When you do a kindness for someone you care for, and they don’t seem grateful; or even seem to notice or acknowledge the act, doesn’t it hurt just a little.

When you pour your heart into a message, a post, a speech, an article or share a testimony, and no one responds or acknowledge it, does it make you question yourself, and hurt as well?

Some people are great at thanking and acknowledging people, for some of us it take a conscious effort.

There is a quote that says, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again”.

I think that is definitely food for thought.

As I have written about before, most of us go through life on autopilot not really paying attention to many of the little, but important nuances of life.

Most of us want to do a work for God. We think about feeding the hungry, and finding shelter for the homeless. People go on mission trips to build schools and clinics. Missionaries have traveled to the most remote areas of the planet to share the word of God.

Those are all noble and good things to do. Those are things God wants His people to do.   Jesus is the One who tells us to do these things.  I just wonder if because we tend to focus on some of those weightier issues, we forget about the simple things. Simple things like showing our appreciation for the small things that other do for us.

It is so easy for us to take our spouses, children and friends for granted. Because your spouse cooks dinner for you every day, to you come to expect it, and stop thanking them?

Showing appreciation toward others doesn’t cost you a cent, but it pays great dividends. When someone thanks us for doing a great job at something, or thanks us for something we do for them, doesn’t it make us feel good? When someone shows appreciation toward you, doesn’t it make you want to do or be even better?

Think about the positive impact you could have on your spouse, children, friends or even a grocery store clerk if you were to show that kind of appreciation. Saying a kind word, or acknowledging deeds can be the difference between a good and bad day for someone. A lifetime of that could be the difference between a productive spirit led life, and a life of mediocrity.

We all want to be appreciated. Maybe if we were to show more appreciation toward others, we may find ourselves more appreciated.

What do you think about that?

Choose To Be Happy

Hands holding piece of paper with happiness written on itReprint from April 2012.

 

Did you know that happiness is a choice? It really is!

Now I’m sure someone’s saying, “Hold on a minute, you’re telling me that if I lose my job, or if I lose money in the stock market, or if I find out I’m sick and may not have many years left; I can choose to be happy about it”?

Happy about the situation, no; happy in spite of, yes.

I think most of us misunderstand happiness like we misunderstand joy and peace. Happiness, joy and peace are states of mind, not emotions. We derive emotions from events in life that we label happy, joyful and peaceful; but in their purest form, they are states of mind.

It might help to look at it like this, happy is an emotion, happiness is a state of mind. You may not be happy that you lost your job, but you can still be a happy and optimistic person because life is good.

I like how Groucho Marx put it, “Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

I also really like a quote by Helen Keller that goes, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

That statement is so true. When something bad happens to us, like the loss of a job or finding out we’re ill; Instead of taking stock of what we have, or all the other good things in our life, we focus on what’s not right. We might have a couple hundred pluses, but we focus on the one or two negatives.

We have to change our mind set on what happiness really is if we want to have a lifetime of it. It’s a glass half full gratitude attitude.

Or another way to put it is what Frederick Keonig said, “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

If we can only be happy when we have everything we want or need, and everything in life is flowing just right, we will spend most of our lives not very happy.

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.”~~ James Oppenheim

It really boils down to the things we focus on. If we put most of our focus on the bad, the sad, the difficult, and the disappointments; our outlook on life will be jaded.  If we focus on having a friend in Christ, our perspective is different.

Abraham Lincoln really hit the nail on the head when he said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

God inspired some amazing advice in Philippians 4:8 that should really help us, 8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things”.

That was written in a time of great persecution of Christians.

I hope these thoughts will help you or someone you care about to choose happiness, and a more fulfilling way of life.
Let me know what you think!

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“If you like what you’ve read, please feel free to share it with a friend; and recommend yourspiritmindandbody.com to them”.

The Peace of God

a baby smiling while asleep.It seems like I’ve been going through one trial after another lately without relief. As a matter of fact one of them is still front and center in my life, and it’s had a heck of a hold on me.

I’ve prayed for peace, I’ve asked others to pray for me as well, and it just seemed like every time I turned around I was getting knocked down again. Then just a little while ago, after praying for peace again, the phrase, “The peace of God” hit me; and it sent me to the scriptures. When I typed, the peace of God into Bible Gateway, the two scriptures below popped up and got me thinking.

Colossians 3:14-16 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Also:

Philippians 4:6-8 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

I haven’t been meditating on things that were pure, or lovely, or of good report or of virtue or things praiseworthy. I was thinking about my problems and feeling angry and a bit sorry for myself.

It reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago about four little boys sitting in the yard playing. The mother of one of the boys happened to look out the window, and to her horror, in between the four boys was a skunk. The mother instantly yells out the window, “It’s a skunk, run” Well, the boys all got up, one of them picking up the skunk, and they ran away.

Of course, the moral of that story is so applicable to my current story. Every time I’ve gone to God in prayer, instead of leaving my problem at His feet like He says, I’ve been picking up my skunk and running off wondering why my life feels like it’s stinking lately.

How about you? Do you bring your trials and tribulations to God in prayer only to pick them up and carry them off when you’re done?

Something to think about!