How to be thankful ... in ALL circumstances.
Thanksgiving has always been one of those holidays that I tend to brush over…it’s a warmup for Christmas, right? Family getting together, eating huge meals, holiday hours of sleep, and seriously…Christmas has gifts…that’s next level. Thanksgiving, I mean…yeah, I’m thankful…but am I really?
I find myself in a little different headspace and heart space this year around this time. I don’t know how much you know or may have heard about the Adams fam’s last couple of years…but to say, “we have so much to be thankful for…” is an understatement.
As we look back three years, this journey began with two strokes, two knee surgeries, and a long recovery for my myself and my middle son. The word "hard" comes quickly to mind. But not as challenging as the next curve in the road. In November 2022, our oldest son suffered a life-threatening accident where he experienced a tremendous fall after coming into contact with 7,200 volts of electricity. There's an incredible God story in all of this; but suffice it to say we were on yet another long road to recovery.
Looking back over that list, the Lord's faithfulness and grace are so apparent in so many ways. I am humbled to say, we are all upright and even getting back to "normal". There really is so much to be thankful for. But man, when you are in it, it is so hard to really have a heart of gratitude.
I came across this article Billy Graham wrote back in November of 2021. It was really encouraging (and convicting!). I want to share a couple of my takeaways (let's call them "Cole's notes" instead of Cliff's notes) and the biblical references the reverend used… I hope it is inspiring to you as well:
- The Bible commands us over and over to have a heart of gratitude. That should be a distinctive mark of a believer. If ever there was a follower of Jesus who seemed warranted to live without a thankful heart, it would be Paul. Despite tons of tough circumstances… it’s him who tells us in Ephesians 5: “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).
- I never seem to be satisfied with what I have, where I’m at, or the circumstances I’m in. But what a change of mindset when I trust the Lord and believe that it is all from Him, just as King David points us to in Chronicles: “Wealth and honor come from you… We give you thanks and praise your glorious name… Everything comes from you” (1 Chronicles 29:12-14, NIV).
- God’s people. I cannot tell you enough how important people have been through our trials the last couple of years. God deeply used Jen, our kids, our family, and our community. I have become so thankful for those folks the Lord lets us do life with… I hope you have a community that loves and supports you as well. I want my response to be the same as Paul’s in Acts: “At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15, NIV).
- None of us are exempt from hard times. I think the question is, “what will we do with those hard times?” Embrace them, learn and grow; or become bitter and live life mad. I hope any anger and bitterness doesn’t last for you. Here are a couple of verses for you:
- “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).
- "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Finally, may we never forget… God has given us the greatest Gift of all—His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV).
May it be said of us that we are “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, NIV)… on Thanksgiving Day AND every day!
P.S. We might have not moved the same rocks at the same T Bar M training camp “Hi-Ho”, but we have done the same hard work of “lovin’ on kids for Christ” as alumni, and we serve the same Lord. If you ever want to get together to have coffee and talk over the hard things that you are fighting to be thankful for… hollar. We have had some good practice on giving thanks in ALL circumstances. So tough, and so worth it.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
Our daughter, put this video together if you want to see what God can do in an incredible situation.