Thankfulness In All Things – In Everything Give Thanks – Thankfulness Part 4

Levels of Thankfulness – Stages of Gratitude

One really important thing as I’ve focused on Gratitude and Thankfulness is that I’ve begun recognizing levels or stages or qualities of Thankfulness in myself. It’s not necessarily a linear progression from one to the other. It can be parts of all or it can be one for one situation and another for another. And it can be most or all of these at the same time for me.

I’m talking about:
• Circumstantial Thankfulness – Thanks for the blessings!
• Comparative Thankfulness – Well, I guess it could be worse!
• Thankfulness In All Things – In Everything Give Thanks
• Whole Life Thankfulness – I’m Thankful for my life!

I’m learning that “Gratitude is an Attitude” (see what I did there?) of the heart, not merely a reaction to favorable circumstances.

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

The transition from Gratitude as a momentary warm, fuzzy feeling prompted by circumstances, to Gratitude as an attitude of your heart, a settled response to God and his goodness, is a process. It’s a process that involves joy and pain, blessing and loss, and it’s worth its weight in gold!

I’m learning that you can be thankful IN everything, without being thankful FOR everything!

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

When I look back over the years the most thankful things I remember have not always been the easiest things! The greatest challenges have resulted in the greatest progress in my maturity, attitude, and character! The greatest challenges have resulted in the greatest Gratitude to God! I love it when things go smoothly, but when I face challenges and God comes through, sometimes the Gratitude is almost overwhelming!

Thankfulness – In Everything Give Thanks

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

It’s not “FOR” everything give thanks. It’s “IN” everything give thanks.

It’s not being false and hyper-spiritual and saying silly stuff. It’s looking for the good in the bad, the beautiful in the ugly. And then intentionally, and sometimes with great effort and determination, focusing on the good and the beautiful. And being thankful for the good in the midst of a situation that includes things that are not good.

In the midst of a situation that includes pain, loss, uncertainty, and confusion we can choose to focus on the good: The kind words of others, the kind and caring actions of others, things that we still have, things that offer a glimpse of hope. We can focus on good readings on the lab work, rather than on the fact we have the disease. We can focus on the energy we have rather than on the energy we’ve lost.

I remember a Holy Moment during our daughter Stephanie’s cancer battle in 2019-2020 when Jean, Stephanie’s mother, used scissors to cut off Stephanie’s remaining hair (which had begun coming out in clumps). Then Philip, Stephanie’s husband, shaved the remaining fuzzy hair from her head. And I stood by and watched love, courage, and faith working together in one of the holiest moments I’ve had the privilege of being part of!

There were many not so holy moments (at least they didn’t seem holy to me at the time) during Stephanie’s battle with the disease, but I’ve chosen to let that Moment stand out in my memory. And now, nearly a year on, the follow-up exams have been clear. I have to admit, it’s easier to give thanks now for the current good news, but let’s set our hearts on the kind of thankfulness that finds something beautiful and thankworthy in the “In Everything” seasons.

It’s not “FOR” everything give thanks. It’s “IN” everything give thanks.

I’m learning. I don’t have all this stuff worked out so that there’s never a moment of angst or fear or loss. I’m learning. And I’m well aware that I haven’t faced all my “In Everythings” yet. There may come an “In Everything” that’s way beyond my pay grade. But I’m learning. I’m getting ready for the “In Everythings” that are still ahead by practicing my “Giving Thanks” in the ones that come along.

Practical stuff:

There is an element of “Well, it could be worse!” and some “Glass half full or glass half empty” thinking in all of this. But one thing I’ve learned about Thankfulness is that it has to be expressed in some way. When we look for the thankful things amongst the “In Everythings” of life, when we search for them, identify them, then we can call them out by saying “Thank you” to God, to other people, to our own anxious souls, something powerful and transformational happens.

This comes more naturally to some of us than to others, but I recommend you make a conscious decision to “In Everything Give Thanks”. Then start to do it…
• Look for the thankful things.
• Identify them when you find them. Name them. Call them out.
• Express your Thankfulness. Say thanks. Thank God. Thank people.

Let your giving of thanks in your present situation prepare you for the giving of thanks “In Everything”. You and the people you love and influence will not regret it!

So far we’ve been thinking about:
• Circumstantial Thankfulness – Thanks for the blessings!
• Comparative Thankfulness – Well, I guess it could be worse!
• Thankfulness In All Things – In Everything Give Thanks!

It’s not as if any of these are the ultimate goal of Gratitude. They’re more like stages in a process. They’re more like places we visit and revisit on the journey of our life. And I’m still convinced that these are not something we move through in linear progression or that there are better and worse kinds of Gratitude. In my experience, I find myself moving through the spectrum of Thankfulness pretty frequently. But I do want to grow in Gratitude so I spend more and more time simply being Thankful for my Life!

Next week we’ll wrap up the Thankfulness series with Whole Life Thankfulness – Thank You For My Life! Don’t miss it!

As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.

 

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