Last week was Thanksgiving and it was a wonderful time.
Surrounded by friends, family – immediate, extended and distant – I was swathed in visual reminders of just how blessed I am.
But I find that today, a full week after the food, festivities and fellowship have ended, I am still meditating on this theme of being thankful.
As I drove to Thanksgiving dinner with my husband and children, the Lord challenged me to move from a place of simple thankfulness to one of appreciation.
You see, the typical definition of thankful is to be pleased. Whereas, the definition of appreciation is to show gratitude.
I believe that one of milestones in our walks with Christ is to move from a place of simply being pleased and/or relieved by the blessings and favor He showers on us, to being appreciative – grateful for it all and, dare I say, gleaning a lesson from the good, the bad, the indifferent and the downright ugly.
Yes, I am thankful to God for my family and friends. For every smile of my children and kiss from my husband. I’m grateful for our home and all of the material blessings God’s afforded us. I’m grateful for employment, for passion and a vision to fulfill the purpose God has created and is calling me to fulfill.
But I appreciate every disagreement I have with my husband because it challenges me to grow in love.
I appreciate every tear and tantrum from my children because it demands I walk in patience.
I appreciate every time my bank account was empty or even (dare I be real?) overdrawn, because it forced me to learn better stewardship and reminded me of my true Source.
I appreciate every person who told me I wasn’t good enough, because it demanded that I return to what God told me to do.
I appreciate every setback, every hurry-up-and-wait on the road to this season in my career, because it taught to me to trust God’s plan.
I appreciate every negative word spoken about me and/or to me, because it meant I had to rely on who God says I am.
I appreciate every phone call I made that went unanswered, because it challenged me to call on the Lord.
I appreciate every difficult decision and mistake that I’ve made, because they forced me to seek God and His plan for me.
Why, you ask? How is that so? How can I be equally grateful for the “good” and the “bad”?
Well, because for me, this time, living in this season of thankful appreciation, is a confirmation of what the word says in Roman 8:28 (NIV):
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Know this. I can’t speak for you. And I am by no means knocking your thankfulness but I am challenging you to look thank about being thankful in a broader sense.
Aggressively find your silver lining. Proactively seek out the blessing in your mess.
Not simply because it’s a good habit or because it will grow your faith, but because I believe this is how God has called us to live; this is how we exemplify that we are in this world but not of it. Through out outlook, our perspective.
As the holiday season continues, I pray that you will continue to be shown reasons to be both thankful and appreciative, and that you bless God for them both.
Meditate on this…