Autumn is a season of change. It is the time of year when the world is covered in a cobbler crust of cinnamon and nutmeg and the leaves that were once bright green and full of life, fade and slowly paint the ground. The air that was warm is now cooler. The days that were long are now shorter. Life brings changes that, for some, carry an adrenaline rush and an excitement about all the possibilities on the horizon. For others though, the very word change can incite a full blown panic attack. Why? Because change can mean discomfort. Change can mean loss. Change can mean extra work. Change can mean silence. Change can mean pain. Change can mean a lot of things we do not find appealing at all. But change can also mean beauty. It can also mean relief. Change, like two sides of a quarter, is still valuable and when we look at it with a grateful spirit instead of one still clinging to yesterday, we can be a more joyful people.
Thankfulness, like many other things, is a conscious choice we choose to make. Sure, we may not feel like being thankful, just like we may not feel like loving this person or forgiving that person. But feelings are not the deciding factor of our choices and no matter what circumstance you may find yourself in today, you have a choice to be thankful or ungrateful. If you have a tendency to fear the unknown or to be melancholy like I do, God will no doubt use change as a means of developing a heart of thankfulness because, let's face it, by nature we are not thankful people. We huff in frustration when our drive-through order takes too long, we tap our foot impatiently when someone doesn't respond to our text immediately, we always want more and - whether we admit it or not - we think we deserve more than what we have. When my mom was undergoing chemo treatments for breast cancer, thankfulness was not in my heart. When I faced my first Christmas as a single mom, I wouldn't say thankfulness was the defining theme. When we have to live in a world that has no Instagram filter, our hearts can easily take on a shade of ungratefulness and we miss so much because of it. As inherently ungrateful people who like the thermostat of our life at a comfortable 70*, we simply do not naturally default to thankfulness. But regardless of our past, our present or what our future may look like, we can always choose to be thankful because we serve a God who redeems our past, comforts our present and gives hope for all our tomorrows.
Are you lonely? Be thankful that He is omnipresent. (Jeremiah 23:23-24)
Are you afraid? Be thankful that He calms storms. (Mark 4:40-41)
Are you doubting? Be thankful that He is faithful. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Are you hungry? Be thankful that He feeds us with the bread of life. (John 6:35)
Are you weary? Be thankful that He replenishes us. (Jeremiah 31:25)
Are you broken? Be thankful for that He draws near. (Psalm 34:18)
Are you angry? Be thankful that He is patient. (Psalm 86:15) Are you unhappy? Be thankful that joy is always found in His presence. (Psalm 16:11) Are you wandering? Be thankful that He always comes after us. (Matthew 18:12-13)
Paul encouraged the church to give God thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Lean into that word everything. Paul, who had felt the lashes of a whip and who had experienced betrayal and sacrifice, exhorted the Christians to be thankful in everything.
You mean in my grief? In my loneliness? In my infertility? In my betrayal? In my loss? In my exhaustion? In my uncertainty?
Yes. In those things and in all the others we keep in silence, give thanks. We can be thankful because even when our world may feel dark and colorless, He is in each shade of red, orange and yellow. We can be thankful even when we fall, because He is in each sound of the crunching leaves. In all our changes, He is there. We can be thankful that He is faithful in every season, not merely the carefree summer days. When things die, when chapters close, when stories end, He is there - ready to color our world with Himself and paint a masterpiece upon our pain.
Choose thankfulness, not just today or on Thanksgiving Day, but let it permeate your life. The fragrance of a thankful spirit - even when the wind is colder than you'd like it - is a far better aroma than the scent of apple and pumpkin spice.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Psalms 107:1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalms 7:17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.