Written By: Lois Prindler
“This is the worst day of my life!” my little Eeyore-child lamented as he recounted the day’s ‘tragedies’ for me – a list of things that did not go the way he had hoped or liked them to. I stifled a smile as I sat next to him, sliding my arm around his shoulders. Gently, I began to remind him of the things that were good about his day and the many things he had to be thankful for, but he countered my list with negativity and downplayed all of his blessings – clearly desiring to wallow in self-pity rather than changing his perceptions.
I sighed deeply – partly because I realized the difficult life that awaits him if he doesn’t alter this way of thinking, and partly because I recognized myself in him. How many times have I felt discontent with my blessings? How often do I view disappointments as tragedies, convinced that life is all about me and should go exactly as I want it to?
Proverbs 15:15 says, “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.” I have seen this illustrated in life so often, but one example really stands out to me.
I was in the hospital for an extended stay so I got to experience a number of roommates. One lady, although very pleasant to me, was continually expressing discontent with nearly everything in her life. The food was terrible and they always got her order wrong. The beds were so uncomfortable and the view from our very large window was the worst. She had no patience with the nurses and she had frequent spats with family members. My heart went out to her as I saw such a miserable soul, unable to control the people or circumstances around her and unwilling to change her perspective.
By contrast, I lay in a post-op ward one day and listened to the most grateful soul! An elderly gentleman kept expressing appreciation for every little thing the nurses did and you could sense how it lifted their spirits. Although he was in pain, his focus was on others, and he was determined to be thankful. I just knew that that man’s soul had a continual feast!
There are a multitude of things in our lives over which we have no control, but no matter how crazy our circumstances may be, there is one aspect of our lives over which we exercise full command – the choice to give thanks in spite of it all.
The Scriptures are full of exhortations to give thanks. There are always things to give thanks for, and even when they are not so evident, there is always one to give thanks to!
“Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, His love endures forever!” (Ps. 106:1; 107:1; 118:1,29; 139)
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.”
(1 Chron. 16:8; Ps. 5:1; Is. 12:4)
“Rejoice in the LORD always, I will say it again – rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything but in everything with Thanksgiving; present your requests to God.” (Phil.4:4,6)
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5: 16-18)
That’s fairly easy to do when things are going the way you like them to, but what about when they’re not? What about those times when we are really struggling? How are we supposed to give thanks then, and is it really fair to expect us to?
I have struggled with depression my whole life, to the point, at times, when it hurt just to breathe – to be alive. I am convinced that without the LORD, my rock, I would not be here today. He has been my stronghold through the darkest nights of my soul, and through it all He has taught me to put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. This is how we overcome! There were times I literally screamed out what I knew to be true of Him – His reality; His faithfulness; and His unending love.
He showed me how, “As we lift up our hands unto our King; darkness is torn away, losing its sting;”* How I could say with Job, “I know that my redeemer lives” and “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (Job 19:25, 13:15)
God showed me that a sacrifice of praise is one that’s made in difficult circumstances – when it’s hard, and that it pleases Him and frees us.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name… for with such sacrifices, God is pleased.” (Heb. 13:15,16)
We aren’t told to give thanks because God needs His ego stroked – He knows how awesome He is and He’s not insecure. It’s because WE need to know it! We need to be constantly reminded of His goodness; of His love; of His sufficiency; of His faithfulness and mercy; His righteousness and His glory! We need to remind ourselves of all He’s done for us; to get ourselves off the little thrones that our egos have made us and to focus our eyes on Him who is forever praised.
He is praiseworthy – no matter what we’re experiencing or how we’re feeling, and He will bless and inhabit the praises of His people. Praise the LORD!
About Lois Prindler:
Lois Prindler is a child of the Most High God and the recipient of His lavish grace! Her identity and significance is found in Him. The LORD Jesus is her everything!!
On top of the countless earthly blessings, God has given Her a loving husband, made her a grateful mom to twelve precious people, and an enthusiastic grandma! These are her daily delights.