with Carolyn Goff
I can not believe that Thanksgiving is here again, and it is just a month until Christmas. Ours will be different this year. We will not have a big family get together. It is just too risky with COVID-19 so rampant, especially at our age. I sure hope and pray next year will be back to normal. Don’t we all!
Our sincere condolences to all who have lost loved ones. My heart breaks for these families. Kim Mitchell lost her fight against this beast this past week.
My prayers and thoughts go out to her sweet family, husband Ricky Mitchell, daughters Mary Beth and Megan and the grandchildren and all of Kim’s family. Ricky and Kim served as pianist and minister of music at Bethel several times.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4
A man said to me recently, “How can I rejoice and give thanks when I have just lost my job?”
Another said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t give thanks that my wife has cancer!” Though I am very empathetic with these husbands, it is obvious they are focusing on circumstances rather than on God. We are not asked to thank God for everything that happens to us.
We are challenged to give thanks in the midst of everything that happens. We are told to “be full of joy in the Lord,” not in what is going on around us. We have all experienced or will experience difficulties in life. If we focus on the circumstances, we will be discouraged and disheartened.
However, if we focus on God, we will be encouraged and have strength to walk through the present pain. The psalmist says of God, “He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him” (Psalm 91:2). Everyone seeks refuge in something or someone. It may be education, financial security, or status in life, but none of these will bring comfort when life’s circumstances are beyond our control. Only God can give peace when we walk through the “darkest valley” (Psalm 23:4).
Therefore, we are not giving thanks for the “valley,” but thanks that God is with us and will give us what we need. We do not rejoice that we are in the “valley,” but we rejoice in the reality that God is Lord of our lives and will accomplish his purposes in our lives as we walk with him.
The opposite of rejoicing and thanking is grumbling and complaining. When we focus on the circumstances, we may well grumble and complain. When we focus on God, we learn to thank and praise him that in the midst of our circumstances we are not alone. We “live in the shelter of the Most High [and will] find rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1), who is between us and all that life brings against us.
How does this affect our relationships? When we grumble and complain about our spouse, we make ourselves miserable and drive our spouse away. When we express gratitude, he or she is motivated to do even more. One wife said, “I know it would be good if I could express words of appreciation to my husband; but, to be honest, I can’t think of anything good to say about him.” I said, “Does he ever take a shower?” She replied, “Well, yes.” “How often?” I asked. “Every day,” she said. “If I were you,” I suggested, “I’d start there.” It is all a matter of focus. Look for something good and you will likely find it.
How do we replace grumbling with thanksgiving and replace complaining with rejoicing? By nature, we are self-centered and complain when things do not go as we wish. When we are God-centered, we have a totally different perspective.
We start looking for things for which we can be truly grateful. As we grow in gratitude, we come to praise him for who he is and what he has done and is doing in and through our lives. This same attitude then flows into our relationships.
Practical tip: Start a gratitude journal. On the first page, write ten things you are grateful for. You may start with material things: bed, chair, light, table, food, etc. Then, tomorrow, add five new things, including people and what you appreciate about them. Include your spouse if you are married. Each day for the next two weeks, add five new things you are grateful for, including God and all that he is and has done for you and others. As you continue to fill your gratitude journal, you will find yourself grumbling and complaining less. You will be “full of joy in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4) and will “give thanks for everything”(Ephesians 5:20).
Prayer: Father, help me to see beyond my circumstances. Help me to see the positive traits of others and to express appreciation. Thank you that I can trust you even during the hard times of life.
Happy birthday to Nancy Snider on Nov. 26 and Mary Hanson on Nov. 29. I hope both you beautiful friends have a great birthday!
Prayers please for these folks – Kristen Carlton Jones, Tim Landers, Brianna Landers, Gary Hyatt, Jim Ruth, Eloise Murley, Samantha Mosier, Woodie Deming, Dwain Seaton, Jr., Lucas Long and all our sick with COVID-19 as well as any illness! If you want anyone on our prayer list, please call me.
This is a prayer for the sick to pray: Loving God, I pray that you will comfort me in my suffering, lend skill to the hands of my healers, and bless the means used for my cure. Give me such confidence in the power of your grace, that even when I am afraid, I may put my whole trust in you; through our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I will be praying for our community, our county, our state and our great nation that the Lord will eliminate this pandemic from the world and that 2021 will be a much better year.
God bless all of you! Please pray every day and read God’s word that we might understand His plan for us.
My number is 879-9777 to report any news/comments about my column, births, birthdays, weddings, etc.