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What are the steps to take when you don’t feel thankful?
Being thankful is a command in Scripture, just like any other command, but there are seasons of life that we walk through when being thankful is a huge sacrifice.
You want to be thankful, but you just don’t feel thankful for what is happening in your life in this season.
Maybe you have a parent or spouse with a serious health struggle or terminal diagnosis. Maybe your child is missing or battling an addiction.
Perhaps you’ve had a huge financial reversal….or just feel lonely.
Real life is happening all around you, and this year you just don’t feel thankful. What do you do?
Have you ever done one of those social media thankfulness challenges where each day for 2-some-odd days you write something you’re thankful for?
The first few days are easy.
We’re thankful for our spouse, our children, our family, our job, a warm home, great neighbors….and then it starts to get a little tough.
We’re thankful for the driver on the Interstate who let us cut in to traffic.
We’re thankful for the person at Starbucks that paid it forward and gave us a free coffee.
We’re thankful for the lovely sunrise on a crisp, fall day.
And while I’m not here to be a cynic or anything, after the first week of a thankful challenge it starts to get a little superficial.
Because underneath the free coffee and kind drivers on the road, we all face huge things in our life that threaten to undo the underpins holding the pieces of our life together.
And it’s when one of those underpins grows loose and pieces of our life begin to wobble, our trust in God is put to the test.
This is our opportunity to allow our trust to move from being a theory to becoming real life.
Trust that is living color.
And we find ourselves presented with a choice:
Move into a higher dimension of trust and thankfulness
Or allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with the magnitude of life’s problems.
There are steps to take when you don’t feel thankful, steps that are life-changing in ways you can’t imagine.
This is where I found myself last year when the concept of trust and living thankful each and everyday slammed me in the face with a gruesome reality.
Every day I woke up with anxiety swirling around in my belly and as dusk began to fall around 4:30 P.M. that anxiety grew to a Herculean size, threatening to envelope me in it’s terrorizing darkness.
I would go to bed hoping that despite the million questions bouncing around my head, that I’d get a little sleep.
As the year began to draw to a close, I didn’t feel I had the will or strength to choose a word for 2019.
And then, one Sunday morning during worship as I lifted my hands in praise, despite the weight of anxiety and exhaustion that cloaked me 24/7, the word came to my heart.
Trust and thankfulness are inseparably intertwined with one another; learning to sacrificially give thanks in every situation opens our heart to be able to trust God in every situation.
No matter how dire or tragic the situation may seem.
God is in control, therefore I can thank Him for every gift that comes from His hand, because all His gifts are perfect.
Therefore I can trust Him implicitly, because I know that He has only determined good for me, not evil.
I can, with absolute confidence, declare, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
This was the day that I chose to take these steps, even though I didn’t feel very thankful, and they changed my life!
3 Powerful Steps to Take When You Don’t Feel Thankful
Paul instructed us to be thankful in all circumstances.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
This doesn’t sound very hard, until you’re faced with a huge financial setback, a child who is very ill and in the hospital, marriage trouble, or a health crisis.
Suddenly, our mind is gripped with worry and anxiety. Frustration overtakes us and plants seeds of doubt in our mind and we begin questioning God.
We start to second-guess ourselves, wondering if we somehow stepped out of God’s will. We begin to think that if we were truly in the will of God that these bad things wouldn’t happen to us.
1. We need to ask the right questions.
In the post Stop Asking “Why God” and What to Ask Instead, I point out that the right question isn’t why, but what.
If we want an answer to our questions, we must begin by asking the right questions. Why is an accusatory question, but asking what leaves us open for an answer.
2. Being in God’s will doesn’t protect us
We may be walking in the perfect will of God, but that doesn’t always from bad things happening to us.
Many Christians get tripped up on this, because they feel having a closer walk with God will somehow serve as a good luck charm, protecting them from anything undesirable.
Jesus actually promised us that we’d have trouble in this life.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Learning to be thankful in all things enables us to walk through difficult circumstances with peace and joy.
Do you want to know what God’s will for your life is? Each of us has a unique calling and destiny, but God’s will for every believer is to be thankful always.
By now I’m sure you’re wondering how you could possibly be thankful for a child who is very ill or a marriage that is on the rocks.
Paul didn’t say, “For everything give thanks…”, but “In everything give thanks…”
In other words, just because you’re facing a trial or, as my dad terms “waves of adversity” doesn’t mean you stop finding reasons to live thankful.
Learning to live life through a prism of thankfulness and gratefulness is a discipline that helps keep our heart free from trap of entitlement and ungratefulness that leads to bitterness, selfishness, and pride.
For this reason, I believe November is a great time of year to remind ourselves of this important lesson. What’s more, I think it is the best start to our holiday season.
Begin to create a pattern of living thankful so that as we approach Christmas we aren’t consumed with what we want more than we are with celebrating Christ’s birth.
I have created a number of resources that cultivate thanksgiving in our hearts all year long, like a
- Thanksgiving journal
- War Room Prayer Prompts for Thanksgiving
- and a course on how to give thanks in the hard seasons
Let’s start off this holiday season with training our hearts and minds to default to thankfulness…
- in every situation
- in every circumstance
- in every trial
- in every setback
until we can face each one with peace, joy, and a secure faith in knowing that God is always in control and will somehow turn each circumstance around for His glory!
This post is part of the Women Living Well/Good Morning Girls Bible Study Making Your Home a Haven series.
Here is where you can find our online Bible study group: Good Morning Girls in the Word
Here are more posts from Making Your Home a Haven