Give Thanks HERE? Now? {The Grove}

From the wellspring of gratitude all virtues flow.

This quote ruined me. Right smack in the middle of a pity party. Lonely on a team of amazing people. Trying to figure out how to feed my kiddos with the equivalent of a Bunsen burner and Easy-Bake oven. Tired of coal dust and roof rats. Wishing for hot water and reliable electricity. Beyond, sooooo beyond, the honeymoon and adventure of cross cultural living.

But of all the things I didn’t like about that season, my crummy ungrateful attitude topped the list. I needed to figure out how to be emotionally authentic while being rooted in gratitude. That’s a nice way of saying, how to be honest about what you are experiencing without whining and complaining. Or how to tell your friends how you are REALLY doing without making them wish they hadn’t asked.

Since those days, I’ve had some practice learning how to “give thanks in every circumstance”.  Here are my go-to’s to help me choose gratitude.

1. Look for the kindness and favor of God in the hard places.
Joseph is my biblical superhero. His story of integrity, perseverance, and faithfulness in the midst of injustice inspires me to live differently than my circumstances dictate. If Joseph can experience God’s presence, kindness and favor while imprisoned (Genesis 39), surely I can find the same if I just look.

Although few of us are actually in prison, many of us do dwell in places of circumstantial limits and undeserved harshness. Places we feel overlooked, alone, misunderstood, abandoned. What would change if you looked for and acknowledged God’s active kindness and favor in these places?

2. Rejoice in our redemption.
Check out Habakkuk 3:17-19: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls…” Feel you are not flourishing? Not thriving? Not experiencing abundance? Read on, my friend.

“…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” The invitation to be partakers in God’s big story means we have the most beautiful, valuable treasure available to humanity. How would shifting your focus to the gift of redemption influence your thoughts?

3. Look at old photos.
A bit like pondering on stones of remembrance, images of the people and places I love remind me what a privileged life I live. Psalm 16 comes to life in those images, “You have assigned my portion and my cup. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” So, even if today doesn’t feel all that wonderful, I can choose gratefulness knowing this is the life chosen for me by the One who loves me best.

How about you? How do you stay emotionally authentic while being rooted in gratitude?

*****

This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.

Come share your heart, your words, your art on our prompt “Thank You.”

Photo Credit : Unsplash

12 Comments

  1. Patty Stallings November 28, 2014

    This beautiful scarf was a gift from my new friend, Renee.  ([email protected])

  2. Beth Everett November 28, 2014

    Beautiful, Patty! And a “yes and Amen!” to each of your go-to’s. The verses from Habakkuk are some of my favorite that help me to refocus and find joy. Just a few days ago I was meditating on these verses again … and I was once again strengthened in mind and heart. It’s not in pretending the hard things don’t exist, but in knowing that our God is Who He says He is, and He cares deeply for me! Thanks for sharing!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Patty Stallings November 28, 2014

    Thanks, Beth.  I love how you expressed this, “It’s not in pretending the hard things don’t exist, but in knowing that our God is Who He says He is, and He cares deeply for me!” YES! 

  4. Lindsey November 28, 2014

    I love the verse in Psalm that you shared. It has been a bittersweet Thanksgiving this year but I am working on giving thanks and reminding myself I am where I am supposed to be. We have been in this tiny town in SE Asia for 6 months now and it’s my first major holiday away from family-it was a pretty lonely one. Our “team” consists of our family so when we tried to be pro-active and invite the few other Americans in town over for a meal we were told they had plans with their own teams already. I have been so disappointed by the overseas community here-most seem very isolated in their own things with little time or desire for new friendships. On top of that we have been trying to get pregnant since we arrived here and when I went to take a shower Thanksgiving morning I discovered yet again that this month was not a success. I am close to 40 and so afraid my window has passed. So it was the perfect storm of a hard day.

    But I prayed throughout the day and was thankful for the health we have, the home and the 15 month old that makes my heart joyful everyday. And thankful that the first 6 months are behind us and SURELY it gets easier from here…right??? RIGHT?? 🙂

    1. Patty Stallings November 28, 2014

      Lindsey, hurray for persevering through the first six months!   You have endured through losses and disappointments and you are finding a way to be thankful. That is no small thing!   I am going to trust with you that the Storm Whisperer has something for you within these present boundaries that speaks life to you.

  5. Kristi November 28, 2014

    Thanks, Patty.  How am I emotionally authentic while being rooted in gratitude?  I dig a ditch with my pen to paper from the dry patch in which I sand to the refreshing stream of the mercy, grace, and promises that flow from His throne.  Lately I have been existing simultaneously in a time of missing the past, enjoying the present, and trying to catch a glimpse of the future.  I trying to stand in too many places at once.  I am so glad that He is behind me, with me, and before me.  It is from Him that my roots can tap gratitude in hard places.

    1. Patty Stallings November 28, 2014

      Kristi,  your description of the image of digging a ditch from the dry patch to His refreshing stream is captivating!  And YES to “It is from Him that my roots can tap gratitude in hard places.”

  6. Kristi November 28, 2014

    A short reflection from this week:

    Thank You

    Thank You for

    Seeking me out

    Drawing me in

    Wrestling with my questions

    Putting my life out of joint

    So that I

    MUST

    Lean

    Hard

    On You

    1. Patty Stallings November 28, 2014

      Your poetry, Kristi, is a gift to us. Thank you!

  7. JulieB November 29, 2014

    Thanks Patty for that word of encouragement.  I too love those “go-to” passages!

    One of the songs I have loved during this season has been 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord O My Soul) by Matt Redman.  I was struck with the line from the song- “Your name is great and Your heart is kind”.  I have been meditating on the kindness of  God.   Also, I have found that thankfulness is quite possibly the key to transfer my head knowledge of trusting God (His Sovereignty),  18 inches down from my head to my heart!  And worshipping God in thankfulness for His kindnesses changes everything about my heart’s attitude.

    1. Patty Stallings November 29, 2014

      Hey Julie.  I so relate.  My verse for this year has been from Jeremiah 31:3.  It’s about being loved with an everlasting love and drawn by His lovingkindness.  I’ve tried to pay attention to where I am experiencing His lovingkindness  and it’s been pervasive!

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