If you are a Christian there is always reason to give thanks.
But frankly life sucks at times, for Christians too. Even the Crystal Cathedral went bankrupt, the prosperity gospel ran out of cash. All of our lives have seasons where it seems there is little to give genuine thanks for.
When someone like me starts writing about giving thanks in all things while you slog through difficult times an understandable reaction is to want to tell me where to shove it.
For this reason I have been uncomfortable with the notion of listing all the blessings I can count in my life, because it could easily turn into a boasting in what I have, a thinly disguised love of the world. God does promise us many blessings, some of which are to be enjoyed in this world. However, the greatest blessings are those which are intangible and must be grasped by faith.
A particularly slippery blessing is God’s promise to always be with us:
… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 ESV)
Jesus himself promised to be with us while ‘this age’ remains. In Hebrews we also have what appears to be a quote of Jesus:
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
In the gospels there are several incidents in which Jesus rebuked his disciples for their fear. The entire book of Job points to the great value of trusting in God despite overwhelming evidence causing doubt over God’s goodness. Fear is a killer of faith. But this also works in reverse — faith can kill off fear.
When you look realistically at life and cannot help the concerns over whether God really will provide running through your mind, it is not wrong to acknowledge the evidence before your eyes. With that acknowledgement, fear will arise. Faith considers that fear, accepts it as real and then adds faith into the equation.
I may look at our bank statement and see immediately there is not enough money to pay the bills. We have a fixed income so there is no room to squeeze more dollars from anywhere. Juggling bills helps a little but I still fear the prospect of simply running out and being unable to sustain my family. God makes no promise I am aware of that we will not end up in financial sewage. However, He does promise that He will walk through the poo with me.
To some this will seem small comfort and too subjective to be of any value. I have been in much worse than financial shit and this promise of His Presence is what has kept me going. Often it was pure faith, believing that God is with me in my mess despite appearances. Occasionally I knew He was with me, strengthening my weak knees and lifting me up so I wouldn’t drown.
This is one of the great gifts from God which underlie my more immediate and superficial counting of blessings. The list continues to grow because I continue to need to remind myself of all I have to be thankful for and rejoice in. As a fallen creature this counting puts me in a better headspace to appreciate how awesome His greater gifts are.
Seeing a child’s faith blossom and grow.
20 hours of uninterrupted time with my beloved wife.
Joy in our hearts from reconnecting and leisurely time together.
Some renovation plans.
Friends for dinner at our house.
Having dinner friends house.
People I know who inspire me (real people with real struggles).
Someone helping me find paths in the wilderness.
Sunny autumn days.
Old holly hedge now providing firewood.