This Thanksgiving morning as the turkey continues to soak up its own juices, the macaroni begins to boil, the gravy is simmering on low heat, and the rolls are tucked away in a nest of dishtowels to stay warm I am drawn to thoughts of what brings freedom, peace and hope. Jesus. The sum total of my hope and faith. Simple – some might say naive – but it is the truth of my heart this morning as an overwhelming gratitude overflows.
After making a case for we would never accept going to the doctor regarding problems with our physical health, and the doctor refusing to give us a diagnosis because they are afraid we will think they are judging us, nor would we accept a doctor leaving it up to us to prescribe our own solution for a problem that has not been properly diagnosed. However, Bob Hampwrites, this is exactly what we do when it comes to spiritual issues and issues of the soul.
“You can see how ridiculous this approach would be. But in a similar way, the condition of our spirit and soul requires accurate diagnosis and a compassionate, specific treatment that will cure the problem. When our soul is in pain, we need someone to love us enough to tell us the truth so that we can be restored to health to enjoy what Jesus called ‘abundant life.’
“However, these days it is no longer acceptable to point out and label destructive behavior. It is considered intolerant to do so. We have been passive in the subtle war of propaganda waged against those things that we most need. We face an ongoing onslaught of information vying for a place in our minds. Some of it is accurate, but much of it is inaccurate or even deceptive. Some things we see with clarity, some are less obvious.” – Bob Hamp, from Think Differently, Live Differently: Keys to A Life of Freedom.
I find it interesting that this very issue is what is filling social media threads this week as many feel conflict and emotional pain over the current events of our day. Pain and distress that is very real, very valid. And yet, there is more at stake than that which causes us fear or pain.
We must choose what we focus our hearts and minds on each day. We can let the stress, reality and even propaganda of media headlines rules our hearts or we can let the Prince of Peace rule. Bob, Alan and the many Freedom influencers in my life reminded me often that what I focus on will organize my life. When I am seeking relief from fear or pain, fear and pain become the very things that organize my life.
What I seek first is the thing I am focused on… Today, in spite of confusion, conflict and grief – I choose love. I choose gratitude. I choose peace. Suffering will come, and persecution is promised to those who believe. But, that does not mean I have to live in that turmoil even as I experience it. I have a choice to make. Live in the victory of Christ or be a victim of my circumstances. This is the choice we must make that outweighs opinions, judgments and the lies the enemy wants us to believe.
Truth wins, but we have to cooperate with Eternal Truth not temporary relief from difficult and painful realities. My painful reality is not the truth that sets me free. Truth is a person. Truth is not relative to my experience, but rather is a reality in my experience with Jesus. His truth sets me free when I choose daily to abide in Him and not my persuasive arguments, my rationalizations, my pain, my fear or my own crazy, messed up logic based on experience in a fallen world. Today I choose gratitude.
I will give thanks to the Lord because He is good, even when the world around me is spinning out of control. I will give thanks to the Lord because His love endures forever, even when no one else loves or appreciates me. When no one validates me, I will give thanks.
I will trust in the Lord at all times, because He alone is trustworthy and faithful. Even when people fail me, when those who are entrusted to lead me let me down and hurt me deeply… I will be thankful because God is Just and He is Good. His sovereignty makes provision for my every need. When my son died, I gave thanks to God. When I felt betrayed in my marriage, I gave thanks to God. When I have felt overlooked, rejected and despised by those I love, I have continued to give thanks to God.
My heart must never be governed by the circumstances that stir up passion. But rather every passion must be tested by the Word of God and those that are of fear, pain and the fallen circumstances of the world around me must be measured by the only standard of truth that has withstood all time. The truth of God who is Jesus Christ.
As a footnote, I said I gave thanks when my son died. I did – I praised God the day of His funeral, each time I visited his grave, each time I told his story – still today. Before I realized the healing of my grief – I gave thanks. On this day of giving thanks – no matter what you are experiencing in your life – there is the opportunity to be thankful in even if you are not thankful for…
“Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.)” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (VOICE)
Praying God’s bounty and blessing toward you and yours this Holiday Season and throughout the coming year!