Thanks for nothin’ ?

As a pastor of a decade and a half now, I have sat through some pretty rough family counseling sessions.

You’d be amazed at the harsh things people can say to each other… or, maybe you wouldn’t be. I guess that’s even sadder.

Some of the barbs that get thrown include:

  • If you cared about me at all…
  • I don’t think I can love you anymore…
  • You’re an idiot…
  • I just wish I was as important to you as your sister is…
  • It’s me or the XBOX (seriously, I’ve heard this one)…
  • I can’t stand to be around you anymore…

Ouch! After a few of those, it’s a little awkward trying to schedule the next meeting. I never know if they are planning on being together in a week, or if I’ll have to visit one of them in the county clink where they now reside for stabbing their mate.

I can almost hear my voice change as I ask them when they are available to meet: “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! Seven days from today let’s come back to this battle arena for another family smack down. Vicious verbal fists of destruction will be thrown. Powerful pundits will pound each other over the smallest disagreements and mountains will be made out of molehills! Bring the kids for the family fun. BE THERE!!!”

Yeah, we can say some pretty rough stuff to each other. Although it may not seem as biting in an outright sense, one of the most difficult things I have ever heard said to one another, or to God, is “Thanks for nothin’.”

Hmmm… things might be tough and current circumstances may not be favorable, but to say this is really going off the deep end.

When spouses say it, they are implying that because we are fighting over money right now, I’m not thankful for the 12 years of learning, loving and growing together.

When family members say it to in laws, they are communicating that because I don’t like the way you are handling the holiday schedule right now I see no value in the love you show my children or the years of history your poured into my spouse long before I knew them.

When children say it to their parents, because they’ve been grounded from the TV… well, that’s just stupid and you know it.

When people say this to God, they are telling Him because I am going through a rough patch I DO NOT appreciate all You’ve done for me, the life You’ve given and all the unseen/unknown ways You have protected and sheltered me over the years.

Thanks for nothin’ is really one of the most destructive and thoughtless attitudes a human possesses.

Conversely, one of the greatest signs of spiritual maturity and relational stability is thankfulness.

Again and again Scripture equates growth and maturity with thankfulness.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Being thankful is not something we teach our kids to do because it’s polite. It’s an outward sign that you have grown up, think right and have any hope of being happy, healthy and functional in the days ahead.

Believe me, I am not there yet. This became exceedingly clear after sharing in small group last night that I tend to be a glass half empty kind of guy, and then reading this from one of my favorite authors in my devotional readings this morning:

“Have you ever noticed that two people can have a dramatically different perspective on the same situation? It’s the old adage about whether the glass is half-empty or half-full. The distinction is more than just a difference of personality types. It’s more significant than simply whether a person is a pessimist or an optimist. Perspective is not shaped in a vacuum; it is formed int he context of gratitude.” – Erwin McManus, UPRISING

For the second time in one blog… ouch! That one really hurt.

Too many times I have seen the downside and expected the worst because my immaturity both relationally and spiritually has lead me to places of thanklessness.

So, this Thanksgiving week I am really attempting to give thanks in all circumstances.

Let me be a little transparent with and share a prayer I offer between myself and my Heavenly Father:

God, thank you for the doctors catching Noah’s illness before it was too late, and we are believing his kidneys are healing themselves and You have saved him. Thank you for the horrendous medical bills because they are evidence there was a place to take my son. And, oh yeah, thanks for insurance. Thanks for the daily frustration of what to do with a church that’s out of space, over stretched and running a 100 MPH. I’d rather be in this mess than in on of the many others our church could be in. This is at least fun stress. Thanks. Thanks for my wife and all the little things that drive me nuts, because I know that she’d have been fully justified in hitting me with her car several times this past month alone… but, she didn’t. Thanks. Thanks for my Nathan who is so quick witted he’s already out thinking me at age 8, which ticked me off and cracked me up just yesterday. I’m scared to death of his teen years, but God thanks You made him just like You made him. God, thank You for this dysfunctional bunch I call my extended family, both inlaw and outlaw. Several times they have made overseas missions look enticing, but the truth is I couldn’t raise my kids, navigate my life or bear the thought of living without them. Thanks God. Please help me not to see the half of the glass thats empty and all thats been drained away, but help me to only see the half that’s full, and let me be poured out for You. May I grow up and learn what real thankfulness is. In Jesus name, Amen.

Well, I’ve gone public, and I hope you will to. I am praying that every single reader of this article will post a comment of thankfulness. This Thanksgiving holiday week I think it would be a great gift to God and our friends/family to create a huge string of comments that are a stream of thoughts and notes of thankfulness.

Leave one to God, to your family, or about anyone/anything you can think of.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. May your half full cup be enough to overflow from your life to every other life you touch!

10 Replies to “Thanks for nothin’ ?”

  1. God, thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you for the job you have placed me in – for the frustrations that have pushed me to grow and for the blessings that have softened the growing pains. Thank you for my lil apartment and all it’s hodgepodge parts. Thank you for your provision – I have NEVER been without a roof over my head, food in my fridge, or clothes on my back. Thank you for the people (friends/family/etc.) that you placed in my life – past, present, & future. Despite the hurts I have felt/still struggle with, I thank you for so many beautiful moments. Lord, I thank you that it is difficult to put into words what I am thankful for! You are AMAZING! I love you sooo much! Thank you for loving me sooo much more 🙂

  2. “Being thankful is not something we teach our kids to do because it’s polite. It’s an outward sign that you have grown up, think right and have any hope of being happy, healthy and functional in the days ahead.” Great quote Andy!

    The very hardest times in my life still scare me and bring a little physical pain when remembering them, BUT that is when the prayer and praise begin. I am not asking for trials! But God has taught me something so profound each time! Specific circumstances are not necessary right now but I know that Jesus is the only answer. Jesus already knows all the circumstances and how HIS blood has washed me clean!

    I love you Jesus!

  3. Thank you God that you are always there for me when I need you. To know that your promises and faithfulness are everlasting and forever is such a comfort. Thank you for my Connor. He is so cute and fun. When he looks at me smiles and says “hi” or “sorry mom” for something he did. He truly is a blessing to my heart everyday and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Thank you for my family, my mom, dad, stepmom, grandparents and both my brothers. They are my support and I know I can turn to them for anything. Thank you so much for my life; I always say I was saved twice once when I was born and again when I became saved at 17. Life is such an awesome thing; although hard sometimes, it’s very rewarding. I’m greatful to be here and have a purpose. Thank you for this crazy, hetic day; eventhough it’s busy, I can “sing, sing, sing-sing music from the heavens….and shout your name…”

  4. I mostly look at life with a half full glass full with faith and anticipation of God filling it the rest of the way. Not so I can have more, but so I can share what he gives me with others while saying, “LOOK at what God has done!” That is awesome. However, when it comes to being a single parent, I tend to view it as only being one glass when two are needed. It’s tiring, it’s stressful, it’s financially challenging (that’s the most creative area of my life, lol), but through it all, I am blessed and my thanksgiving is because God still chose me to raise these three beautiful children so they may fulfill a purpose He has chosen. And I am thankful in ALL the ways that God provides for my family…sanity (lol), comfort, safety, shelter, food, and most of all-the LOVE. As long as there is a drop in the glass there is thanks to give. And when there’s nothing’ IN the glass that we can see, we still have HOPE because of Christ. In everything, I want to give Him thanksgiving, because even that ‘nuthin IS sumthin’! It takes FAITH to believe that! Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. My precious Lord, Thank you for loving me more than I can imagine & for the scarfice that changed my life! Thank you for returning to me the years the locus had eaten! You are so faithful to me both in my faithfullness and faithlessness! The blessing of a job I love, a man who will become my husband (in 5 days) and 2 dogs who show me daily what unconditional love looks like, blow my mind everyday that I take the time to notice. Thank you for a church who loves you and is learning daily how to love each other more! Thank you for family who love me and I pray will learn to love you! I am humbled by the love you pour out to me each and everyday!
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  6. Father God, I am so thankful for Your precious Son. Thank You for the sacrifice You made for me and the way You continually amaze me by Your grace, peace and love. Thank You that I can come to You with the biggest, scariest things and the tiniest little detail of my life and You care equally about both. Thank You for showing me more and more of who You are through my beloved husband, my precious children and my incredible family. I am stunned and amazed by the way You take care of us. We are spoiled and I am grateful! Thank You so much for allowing me to be a part of what You are doing in Your church. What a privilege to be called Yours! You are my portion and my strength. You are my courage and my hiding place. You count my tears and make me laugh. You secure me in Your loving hand and allow me the freedom to make my own choices. You make me believe that You are real by Your faithful fulfillment of Your promises. I ask You to please forgive me for taking You so for granted and being a jerk to You and to others. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You that You never sleep, You never forget and You never falter. Thank You for You my beautiful Jehovah-raah, the Lord My Shepherd. I love You.

  7. I, too, am a half empty type. I love the book of Ecclesiastes for its ‘all is vanity and striving after the wind..’ message. It suits me. But… grattitude is key to a healthy life, spirtual or psychological. Thank YOU for this message.

  8. Thank you Lord for all that i have been allowed to got through in my life. I rarely like to experience the hardships that I have experienced in this life, and i rarely recognize them as opportunities for growtj while “in the moment”, but your Word says that “all things” work toward the good for all that love You! Thank you for the life You have givenj me , and the man You are molding me into.

  9. Thanks to God for making all things clear. I don’t have to search beyond his words for the final decision on all things. There is a rest and a peace that God gives to us when we lean on him for all the answers. Thanks to God for clarity and rest.

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