Exercising Thankfulness

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It’s time for me to get back to the gym. After 3 weeks of “taking a vacation” from the elliptical and ab bench (not to mention some not so healthy eating), I’m starting to feel it: not only around my gut, but in feeling tired more often, getting more irritable than normal, and having difficulty to keep my focus. Healthy habits and rhythms like exercise and diet help us to function better physically.

Likewise, spiritual habits and rhythms are vital to the functioning of our souls. I’d like to devote the couple of weeks pressing into the spiritual exercise of thankfulness. Hopefully, this will give us some momentum going into the holiday of Thanksgiving and jump start us on the special season of Advent.

I’ve written a lot about thankfulness and I don’t want to repeat stuff that you can read on past blogs. But just a quick review: thankfulness is not just an emotion of gratitude, and it’s not something that we do “reactively” (like when we feel thankful after someone has done something good for us). The Bible commands us to be thankful (Ps 136, 1 Thess 5:18). As God’s people, thankfulness is not simply an act we do, it is to reflect who we are. That is why and how we give thanks always, in every circumstance. So there are two things I want to share about thankfulness:

1. It is rooted in God’s constant goodness to us. The reason we can give thanks always and in every circumstance is because God is constantly good to us. This is an eternal truth. We so underestimate how much God loves us and how He constantly reveals that love to us in every breath we take … and beyond. Acts of kindness from others are prompted by God’s movement in human hearts. Circumstantial blessings are not “chance” happenings, but directly from the sovereign hand of the God who is madly in love with you. Even the trials, traumas, and tribulations we face in this life serve to transform us for the good (Rom 8:28). But they only can if we hold on to the belief that God is good … all the time. And all the time … (let’s say it together) GOD IS GOOD!

2. Thankfulness must be exercised. Giving thanks is neither automatic or easy. There is tremendous dark resistance to giving thanks; resistance that has existed since the Fall of humanity when it whispered doubt of God’s goodness into the ears of the first human beings. So it goes against the grain, within and without, to give thanks to God and to others. Even to those who have received God’s redemption through Christ, thankfulness must be exercised. And like a good workout on the elliptical, proactively giving thanks – regardless of how you think or feel at the time – postures your soul upward. When we exercise thankfulness our souls are refreshed with a new focus on Kingdom reality. We can then move forward on our calling and mission to love others to Christ, as we become more Christ-like. The journey through seasons of hardness and trial are overcome with a soul that is full of thanksgiving.

So I’m going to be your “Thankfulness” Drill Sargeant over the next couple of weeks (“Okay, you wimps, off your duffs. No thanksgiving sissies here! And no crying to mama!” in my Lou Gossett, jr. impersonation). We’ll be exploring how we can go deeper into thanksgiving and leverage it’s transforming power for life.

But right now, hit the floor and give me ten … thanksgivings!

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