At this time of year we hear people say words of gratitude. We have thanksgiving services. We gather together for the thanksgiving meal. Yet, being truly thankful can be a struggle.
There are many obstacles to thankfulness.
- The first is a struggle with circumstances. The struggle is our focus. We focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have.
- The second obstacle to thankfulness is envy. Similar to our focus on our negative circumstances, this obstacle is an unhealthy focus on the good things others have. When we do that, we don’t notice that those people struggle and stumble too.
- The third is the mirror – pride. We come to believe that we are the creators of our own bounty. There is little room for gratefulness to God and others when pride clouds our vision.
- The fourth obstacle to true thankfulness is entitlement. When we feel entitled to our blessings instead of feeling thankful we feel like we are receiving only what we deserve. It’s hard to feel thankful when you also feel like you deserve the blessings you have.
It’s interesting to me that in the Bible it is the struggling who seem to have a good handle on thankfulness. Sure, they cry out to God to help them. However, in the midst of their petitions is this consistent reminder of how thankful they are. Jeremiah says it this way,
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)
What is Jeremiah’s secret? It is memory! Jeremiah doesn’t just focus in the book of Lamentations on his struggles. He focuses on God’s goodness. He fixes His eyes squarely on what would happen if God gave up on him and his people. He remembers what God has done in the past and how that has led them to the present.
It is time that we start focusing on the goodness of God again. We need to see how His love keeps intersecting our lives. We need to see the good in our lives for what it is – not what we deserve or just blind luck – it is the gift of a loving Heavenly Father. We are not alone. We are not forgotten. We did not create our own blessings. He is the source of all those things.
What about you and me? Have you noticed that these obstacles all relate to our focus? Are any of these obstacles affecting your focus? Are the eyes of your heart cloudy or blurred so that you cannot see how much God is loving on you? We sang on Sunday the old chorus, “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord.” May that be our prayer today. May we pray that our eyes would no longer be cloudy. May God help us see clearly how good He is to us.
Something to think about,