When my daughter got pregnant out of wedlock, I could not give thanks for the situation with integrity. In fact, there was a lot of grieving I had to do. However, even in the middle of my grief, there were many things for which I could give thanks.
I knew the question was coming. She had asked this question nearly every time I called to report the latest Smith family bomb. You would think by now I would have anticipated it and been ready with the “right” answer. But I am a forgetful sheep. After she listened to me, cried with me and reminded me that she loved me… “Have you given thanks?” There it was. And just like I did most every time she had asked it before, I rolled my eyes. I’m not proud of that. But I like to keep it real here folks. The truth is, in that moment, I didn’t want to give thanks. I wanted to rant and complain, and basically invite her into the pity party I was throwing for myself. I wanted to sit for awhile in my entitlement, and there was no room in the chair for giving thanks.
But alas, she knows me well. She knows my tendency to process out loud, often before I have processed with the Lord. What’s more, she knows that deep down I long to connect to the heart of Jesus more than I want to party with self-pity. This woman who has discipled me for the last 16 years knows my heart - the good, bad and ugly. And yet she loves me still. Even as I write those words, I am taking a moment to savor the gift. She has instilled in me a love for the word of God while teaching me how to have a real relationship with the living Savior. And she continues to be an echo of the Father’s validating voice in my life. So her words carry great weight.
“Have you given thanks?” Her question comes from 1 Thes. 5:18 that says “Give thanks in all things. For this is God’s will for you.” Though I am no Greek scholar, I think the word “in” is significant. It doesn’t say give thanks FOR all things, but give thanks IN all things. It speaks to the time rather than the circumstance. While you are in it, walking through it…GIVE THANKS. Why? Well, first of all because it is God’s will for you. But second of all, Psalm 100:4 tells us that we enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. And no matter the circumstance, wouldn’t you rather experience it in the presence of God? Oh how different my world looks when viewed through the lens of I AM.
So once I get over myself, I take a minute to consider, “For what can I give thanks?” While I might not be able to give thanks for the circumstance itself, there is always something I can give thanks for in the midst of it. When my daughter got pregnant out of wedlock, I could not give thanks for the situation with integrity. In fact, there was a lot of grieving I had to do. However, even in the middle of my grief, there were many things for which I could give thanks.
Thank you God that she chose life.
Thank you God that you are the creator of life, and therefore have a purpose for this one.
Thank you God that you promise to be with us and never leave us.
Thank you God that you knew every one of her days before one of them came to be.
Thank you God that you are in control and you have a plan.
Thank you God that you are faithful and your promises are true.
Thank you God that you are the same God that created the universe and parted the Red Sea. Thank you God that nothing is impossible for you.
Thank you God that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived the plans you have for those that love you.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Giving thanks settles my heart, reminds me who God is, and opens me up to what God might actually be up to. Because God IS up to something. He is ALWAYS up to something…more often than not, he is up to multiple somethings! This grief will not be for nothing. This pain will not be wasted pain. Giving thanks puts me in the position to ask, “God, what are you up to?” from a place of genuine curiosity, humility and surrender. As opposed to the “God, what are you doing?” question that came before from a place of pride and judgment. And it gives me ears to hear when God answers.
I am reminded of the Don Moen song from years ago entitled “Give Thanks.”
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son
And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us"
I often like to take songs God brings to mind and let them remind me of the truths of Scripture.
Give thanks to the Holy One – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10)
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son – “He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?” (Rom. 8:32)
And now let the weak say, "I am strong" – I am weak, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
Let the poor say, "I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us"– I am poor of spirit, but “the Lord richly blesses all who call on him.” (Rom. 10:12)
Give thanks – “Give thanks in all things, for this is God’s will for you.” (1 Thes. 5:18)
One Step Further:
Are you stuck? Does it feel as though the lies are louder than truth? What are you IN right now?
Have you given thanks?
Dana Smith is a funny life-giving warrior who is learning how to be increasingly dependent on Jesus. She is also wife to Greg, mom to three amazing young adults, and Lolly to Mason and Noah. As Women’s Equipping Coordinator for Wellspring Group, she loves pursuing her passion – empowering women to step out of shame and into their God-given glory - through coaching, teaching, writing and providing community. In her spare time she enjoys binge-watching Netflix series and game nights with family. She is available for speaking engagements as well as lunch – especially if it involves Chick-Fil-A diet lemonade;).