Finding Peace in Thankfulness
As I was driving to work today, I moved over into the left lane to give room for a tow truck that had stopped to help an elder lady who was having car trouble. When I drove past them, I noticed the lady had the biggest smile on her face! But not only that…she was giving the tow truck driver a HIGH FIVE! I got the biggest smile on MY face! Because I could just sense the immense gratitude and the immeasurable peace she must have felt seeing this person come to her aid!
A truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit, no matter what, to notice, to pause, and to choose. Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter their circumstances. I think the Apostle Paul had something to say about that when he penned these words that we find in Philippians 4:12, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul is writing these words from a place of peace. Not a physical place (remember he was writing this letter from prison) but a state of peace, a peace of mind, with a peaceful spirit, because he had, as he said, found the secret to being content…thankful…in any and every situation. And that was: relying on the strength and the promises of God.In fact, whenever Paul found himself in a situation that was beyond his ability to control, when circumstances were difficult, he would notice…look for…something for which to be thankful! Like when he and Barnabas were driven out of Pisidian Antioch. They shook the dust off their sandals and went their way, “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 14:52). Or when Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and jailed in Philippi. While in stocks, they were “praying and singing hymns to God…” (Acts 16:25). So they noticed what they could be thankful for!
Then they paused to acknowledge this, as a way to remind themselves of God’s presence in their lives. They took the time to lift up praise to God and to give Him thanks for His provision…to give thanks for the opportunity to serve…to give thanks for His presence and His power in the midst of their troubles. And then as they noticed and paused and chose to focus on God’s presence, His powerful peace was unleashed! In the midst of our circumstances, will we be a noticer? A pauser? A chooser? A person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstances we are facing?
Paul and Barnabas and Silas weren’t the only ones who did this. I see this truth about the power of thanksgiving all through scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed just before being thrown into the lion’s den? A prayer of thanksgiving! What was the prayer of Jonah’s heart before he was delivered onto dry ground after 3 days in the belly of a fish? A prayer of thanksgiving! How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious about anything? We pray with thanksgiving! And what is the result of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? PEACE…POWERFUL, UNEXPLAINABLE, UNCONTAINABLE PEACE! “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Webster’s definition of thanksgiving is: a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness.
As we draw closer and closer to Thanksgiving, I wonder how we might celebrate God’s divine goodness today? I wonder what might happen if we decide, in the midst of our struggles and troubles, to notice, and pause, and choose something for which to be truly thankful?
Dear Lord, will you help me notice things for which I can be thankful in each and every situation I find myself in today? Will you help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of your presence? And will you help me remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank you for the reality that thankfulness changes everything! In Jesus’ Name! Amen!