We live in a land of abundance. Our electronic innovations allow us to achieve more in less time, yet we are always busy. We have easy access to food via grocery stores on every corner and a variety of fast food restaurants, yet thousands of us struggle with the eating disorders of anorexia and/or bulimia which involve forced starvation and the purging of food through vomiting or exercise. We have our choice of over-the-counter and prescription sleep medications, yet we do not get the rest we need. The struggles of life seem to be all-consuming, and each step of life seems heavy and burdensome. Why? I think it comes down to a perspective issue. We focus on what we do not have instead of what we have. We focus on all the reasons we have to be discontent instead of the many reasons we have to be content. We thank God for a few things, instead of for all of his blessings. Maybe the root of our discontent is a thankfulness problem.
In Psalm 9:1, the psalmist writes, “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” (NIV). That word, “all” really gets me. The psalmist is not praising God with the corner of his heart that says to be a good Christian, but rather with his whole being. The psalmist is not reciting the best of God’s blessings, but rather thanking God for all he has given.
The apostle Paul echoes the psalmist when he writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” [emphasis mine]. Paul does not say that we have to give thanks for everything, for the abuse, power, and pain that far too readily enter and impact our lives, but to give thanks in everything.
When we are busy, can we give thanks to God for the strength that He gives us to make it through? When we struggle with deciding what to eat for dinner, can we thank God that we have the luxury of several different types of food in our refrigerator? When we struggle to sleep, can we thank God for the minutes or hours of sleep he does lavish upon us? Can we thank God with our whole hearts, letting gratitude consume our entire beings, instead of just a little corner of our psyche?
Thanksgiving has long since passed. I did not do a very good job of gratitude then. Christmas is a recent memory. That day passed too quickly. The new year has begun, though. What better time to focus on gratitude than now? As I begin a new year, can I learn to live with all consuming gratitude in each moment of my busy life? What kind of benefits could complete gratitude have for my life? I want to learn to learn to praise God more with all my heart in this next year. This is a practice that can help me gain perspective on all of the other problems that try to encroach on my being and steal my joy. May this next year be a year when thankfulness is what defines and consumes me.
I Still Want a Perfect Body, by Abby Kelly
Adjusting Your Perception of Thin, video resource
Stop Focusing on Self, video resource