Thankfulness. Lorraine Hill is right on target by finishing our study with this topic – we cannot have joyful hearts when we do not have grateful hearts. The Lord’s timing is perfect! We are focusing on thankfulness this week – the week before Christmas. This time of year we can become overwhelmed by planning for, shopping for, wrapping up, and then unwrapping GIFTS! In all of this busy-ness, it is easy to lose the meaning of the word “gift”. Merriam-Webster.com defines gift as:
1. a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
2. something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
3. the act, right, or power of giving
Whether we realize it or not, we are inundated by all sorts of gifts throughout the year from our Heavenly Father. The bible verse that comes to my mind immediately (about gifts) is one that me and the kids have memorized this year. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). But what is a “good and perfect gift”? And what does it feel like to get “the perfect gift” from someone? Wonderful! When I get a really good gift from a loved one or friend it is special, but not because of the actual gift…getting “the perfect” gift from someone is a sign that they really know you well enough to know what you might need, or want, without you telling them. What a great feeling of closeness this generates! But have you ever gotten a “really bad” gift from someone who should know you well enough to know better? How does that feel? Awful! Again, not because of the actual gift, but because getting “the wrong thing” from someone feels like they haven’t really determined what gift will suit you best.
We know that God gives us every good and perfect thing in our lives, but does God ever give us “the wrong thing”? Yes and no. Yes, sometimes He gives us with difficulties that we may not feel immediately perceive as “gifts”: illness, problematic relationships, financial troubles. These kinds of “gifts” can leave us feeling like He has overlooked our deepest needs. Often our greatest desire is for our own comfort rather than spiritual growth. Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). His greatest desire for us is that we might come to know Him better and be more like Him. Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked (1 John 1:26). All of our difficulties are opportunities to rest in Him, learn from Him and be cared for by Him. O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways… Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Ps 139:1-3, 23-24). I have learned that much discontentment comes from either (1) not crediting God for “good and perfect gifts” or (2) resenting gifts He has given me as “the wrong thing”. Often when I am feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, God brings me back to a right attitude by reminding me that all He has done for me is a gift and that He is well suited to continue to take care of me: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Phil 4:4-7).
JustaGirl… just like you