Updated: Nov 15, 2019
The falls leaves slowly turn to snow, and before we know it, winter is here! Our fall season in Minnesota usually isn't that long, however it's one of my favorite times of the year. As we near the end of fall and into winter, Thanksgiving is upon us. This is the month most of us are reminded to be thankful for the things we have received throughout the year, the blessings God has given us, or just simply being thankful for what we have right now, where we are at. Why is it just this month that we are reminded to be thankful? Why not all the time? This is the attitude check I want to have all year round, every day.
Why not come to God's table of thanksgiving everyday?
Being thankful each day is something each of us can do, even in the midst of circumstances we can't control or don't like. What's the opposite of thanksgiving? Complaining! Just because something isn't fair or just doesn't give us a free pass to complain to God about it. There are so many things in life that are not fair, but God is our vindicator and He will eventually bring justice if we continue to trust him. Thankfulness is also about trust. When we complain about anything, we are basically saying that we don't like what God is doing, and we don't trust His leadership in our lives. If we truly trust God, we won't complain but instead we will voice our thankfulness that He is working in our lives and giving us the strength to do whatever we need to do while we wait. Complaining reveals that the heart is not thankful. Philippians 2:14 tells us to "do all things without grumbling, faultfinding, and complaining, questioning, and doubting against God." That's a pretty convicting verse as I think about all the things that may even seem minimal at times of what I think or say that is not honoring to God. God takes our complaining personally.
We must praise God in the valleys of life as well as the mountaintops. When we get into a difficult situation, we need to train ourselves to first give praise and glory to God instead of complaining. Now, it's easier said then done, but just ask him for his help. I'm not perfect, and I am still learning. The fact is that I can recognize when I am complaining so I can quickly repent and learn to switch my words to praise. Each day we face things we can complain about. Your car's heat not working, your kids doing the opposite of what you tell them, a diagnosis that came back from the doctor, not getting a promotion, and so on. Why not come to God's table of thanksgiving each time those things come up? Why not sit down and have a conversation and talk about the blessings that are in your life now? God wants to help and listen, but first we must be willing to humble ourself before him.
Thankfulness is a test!
God sometimes allows us to be in less than desirable situations to test us. Quite often He is planning a promotion for us in life if we pass the test that is in front of us. Are you passing the trust test or complaining when things don't go your way? It's our human nature, but we don't want the enemy to grab hold of those complaints. Take your worries and circumstances to God. Immersing your prayers in thanksgiving is what gives your prayers power. Philippians 4:6, "Do not worry about anything, but in every circumstance by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, make your wants known to God." We cannot even come into the presence of God unless we come with thanksgiving. Psalm 100:4 tells us to come into his courts with praise. Believe me, sometimes I don't feel like praising or thanking him for things that are not going right in my life, but, that is exactly where satan wants you to stay. You have to choose to be thankful. Even just saying the words, before you feel it makes a difference. Think about thankfulness, and as your thoughts are, so it your heart. Complaining is never justified. We can all find reasons to complain, but none of them are reasons acceptable to God. Complaining gives us a bad attitude. It's not easy to admit when we have a bad attitude, but it's the road to freedom and change. The truth will set us free!
Complaining can lead you away from what God wants to give you
Take a look at the Israelites in the book of Numbers. Moses was leading the Israelites out of captivity and bringing them to the land God promised them. In Numbers 21:4 it says the people became impatient, depressed, discouraged, and complained because of the trials of the way. Like many of us, the Israelites we satisfied and thankful only when everything was going good or going their way. When there were trials, they complained. I'm completely guilty of this, and I know many of us are. But one of the worst things about complaining is that it prevents us from seeing all the blessings that we do have. The Israelites were given manna from heaven, but now they hated it. Their attitude blinded them to the goodness of God. When we fall into this bad attitude, it keeps us in the very circumstance that we want to get out of. When we complain about a situation, we remain in it. When we have an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness, we are raised out of it. When we speak words of gratitude and thankfulness, we crush the devil's plans, but when we speak words of complaint, we help him accomplish his wicked plan.
Thankfulness brings blessings
When we can learn to control our thoughts and words, we will complain less. We will see the good things God has given us, and be more ready to give praise when things happen. It takes a genuine effort and nobody is perfect. It takes a life time, but we have God on our side to help us become more like him. Take a look around and write down all the things you are thankful for. Get creative and write down things that are unique to you. Make a list or hang it somewhere so you can be reminded daily. Write down the things God has brought you through in the past, or just thank God for them. Having a thankful heart will spill into other areas of your life. It doesn't mean everything is going to be wonderful all the time, but it does mean that you can get through it and grow from it easier by being thankful. Being thankful also brings us to a new level of spiritual maturity. Try being thankful not just at thanksgiving this year, but everyday day. Make it a goal to be thankful for at least one thing each day, whether big or small. I hope you can be encouraged as you go into this holiday of Thanksgiving and be reminded of your blessings.