WHY BE THANKFUL?
By Sue A. Fairchild
Ten years ago, if you would have asked me what I was thankful for, I would have provided you with the basics most people list: Family, health, job…I may have even included God at that time, but He probably would have been my last thought. (And only because I would have been pressured, as a Christian, to say so.)
Since then, I met and married a devoted Christian man and began to dig deeper into my own faith. I searched my heart for the things that I was truly thankful for—not just the mundane, everyday things—but the things that Christ has asked me to be thankful for. That’s when I finally began to discover just how much I have to be thankful for.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
We should be giving thanks in all circumstances. Do we know what that word all means? Everything. Every minute of our day, every second of our lives, and for every single thing that happens…even the bad stuff. “In” means during all these circumstances. Some people have also stated that this verse also means to be thankful for all circumstances. Think about the differences. “In” is in the midst of it all, the hardships, the heartaches, we need to thank God for all the good things He is providing during those times. But we can also be thankful “for” the circumstances. This means we appreciate those hard times, when they come, because they cause us to grow, learn and lean on the Lord more strongly.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: It’s not that easy. That was my immediate thought, too. How could we possibly be thankful for everything? How can we be thankful when we lose a much-needed job or suffer the loss of a loved one? Who could be thankful when faced with illness? How can we be thankful that those types of times may be headed our way? (That seems really crazy to me.) It’s not an easy task.
My heart was once broken badly and it took me many years to grow from the experience. It was not easy then to be thankful. In fact, I often yelled at God, begged and pleaded with Him, too, trying to figure out how I could ever be happy, and thankful, again. As I look back on that time, I still wish it were different, but I am thankful now. I wouldn’t be with my husband now if it hadn’t happened—a man who has helped me grow closer to the Lord. And I wouldn’t have had those moments with God—the begging and pleading and yelling—that drew me closer to Him. Only when I could say, “Okay, Lord. You tell me how,” was I able to finally find the path to the truth of our Lord. Part of that path includes being thankful for the time and part of it is knowing that if it ever comes again, I’ll know God is looking out for me and using that moment for His greater purposes.
I know it’s different for loss. We can never have those loved ones back. So how can we be thankful then? I look again to the Word.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Yes. This is how I try to see things in the most difficult of situations. As a Christian, I am never alone, especially when I can take things to Him in prayer. Christ is always here with me and ready to listen. When I’m facing situations that seem too incomprehensible to bear, I look to Him. Only Christ can give me peace about it. Only He can heal my wounds, cover my transgressions, patch up my broken heart and guard it as I move forward.
Now that I think about it, I’m thankful for really just one thing: God. Because it is through Him that all other goodness ebbs and flows through my life. Without Him, there would be nothing to be thankful for.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)
Sue A. Fairchild is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in substantial edits and Christian writing. She has been published in The Secret Place and The Upper Room devotion magazines as well as numerous other publications. Her blog, Sue’s Simple Snippets, explores the everyday moments of her life in order to find happiness (which is sometimes addressed with snark first.)
My guess is the tradition is almost ten years old. It receives a lot of traffic and the private feedback I get is always uplifting. The posts inspire. Impact.
It’s my annual thankful series.
Each November I open this blog to guests who share why they are thankful. They can be as little as a paragraph and as much as 750 words. If someone goes way over, I suggest they take two slots.
The posts can be serious or humorous.
No one needs to be a writer. Just a thankful person.
I need submissions!
Here’s what you do:
- Choose your November date by signing up HERE. Check off the sign up box on the right for your desired day, and click the box in the bottom center that says submit. If you don’t do this, you are not signed up. You WILL receive a reminder from SignUp Genius, so check your folders. You won’t receive a reminder from me.
- Write your thankful post and send to firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief bio and an optional picture. If you are an author, you are invited to share a blurb, purchase link and book cover to your newest release. You can write your thankful post from your character POV, if you desire. Make sure you sign off the way you want the public to know. Ex: Julie A. or Julie Arduini or anonymous.
I’d love to keep this tradition going, but I can’t do it without YOU. The simplest thankful sentiments tend to mean the most. Don’t be afraid to share yours!
As I mentioned on November 2nd, I didn’t receive a lot of submissions this year on why people are thankful. I decided perhaps that meant it was time for me to share.
I’m thankful for my quiet family.
Call us nerds, geeks, freaks. When you come to our house, the circus is the last thing you’ll find. We’re probably working on laptops or reading. Watching sports. We love to talk but we aren’t overly chatty.
And our volume is almost always on low.
The hard part is when we visit “normal” homes. We’re completely overwhelmed by the yelling that is actually talking. The side conversations and interruptions. It’s all normal, we’re the weird ones.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I like having a sanctuary for my husband to come home to. He’s tired and enjoys relaxing. He’s not entering a perfect place by any means, but more times than not, he’s sitting down to a tranquil setting.
The same for the kids. The oldest is feeling the pressure of senior year. He’s an honor student who works hard. He’s spent when he gets home and school is not always a calm place. Home is safe for him.
The youngest is the loudest of us all and the most extroverted, but she too gets overwhelmed. She can get headaches a lot when there’s too much chaos.
As for me, people ask how I do so much in a small span of time. Although I don’t sleep a lot, I think having a quiet home helps a lot. I can focus and multi task, and I believe the atmosphere is a big part of it.
It’s not for everyone, so don’t think I’m knocking you if you love noise at your home.
I’m just thankful for our quiet, little family.
What are you thankful for?
“If the only prayer you ever pray is thank you, it is enough.” Meister Eckhardt
Enough—such a multidimensional word. The meaning changes with the person, and within our own lives, this word transforms, sometimes moment-to-moment. Culture, upbringing, spirituality, and general outlook alter in our concept of enough.
Once, during a particularly down time, I wandered through an eclectic second hand consignment store, and one wooden sign grabbed me. “You are enough.” Me? I sure didn’t feel like enough.
But in this month of Thanksgiving, it’s good to connect gratitude with enough in our personal season of life. If the South Carolina floods devastated one’s home, gratitude may erupt at having a warm place to sleep and food to eat. For others suffering health challenges, a new day with the sun peeping through the window may cause thankfulness.
This year, I’m especially thankful for my vocation. For its steadfastness, even when I didn’t have confidence to pursue it. I’m grateful for second chances for my writing to bloom. Specifically, I celebrate my debut novel’s release, and inclusion in a Christmas anthology. And another contract!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, my heart whispers—for the tenacity not to give up, though sorely tempted, for my gradually-developing skills that led to publication and for my patient husband, through so many rejections and pitfalls. Thanks for my daughter, who always listens and encourages, and for writing friends far and wide who commiserate, rejoice together, and make honest manuscript suggestions.
The list goes on … reflecting on these gifts makes giving thanks a no-brainer, as they say. I may be a late-bloomer, but I’m blooming. Thanks, thanks, thanks!
Because Gail is thankful, she’d like to do some giving!
Our stories are our best gifts, and blooming late has its advantages—the novel fodder never ends. Gail writes from northern Iowa, where she and her husband enjoy gardening and grandchildren. WhiteFire Publishing released Gail’s memoir, Catching Up With Daylight in 2013, and her debut women’s historical fiction, In This Together (Wild Rose Press/Vintage Line) greets the world on November 18, 2015. Please feel free to contact her—meeting new reading friends is the frosting on her cake!
Cover: see below