Thankful for the complaints

Happy Thanksgiving.

For most of us, plans are in full swing and expectations are high. Finishing a shortened work/school week leading into a day of over indulgence (fancy talk for pigging out) followed by even more decadence (another fancy word for waste) as we shop till we drop, we see why it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

At least, it better be, since we will be paying for it on the treadmill and out of the checkbook for months.

Still, Happy Thanksgiving!

If I asked most people what Thanksgiving was about, we’d get the standard three “F”s:
* Family
* Food
* Football

Then, once we got past all that honesty we’d remember that somewhere between the trip to Grandmas and the tryptophan coma, we’re supposed to be thankful for something, right?

So, what are we thankful for on Thanksgiving? I know, I know, I know we covered this right? Family, food and football, duh?

Agreed, but lets probe the depths just a little bit and let me ask you to make this a season of reflection.

Psalm 107:21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man! 22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Sacrifice and singing… that would change the old family gathering, now wouldn’t it?

Let me challenge you to spend some real time in reflection this Thanksgiving by offer to the Lord some new words of thanks.

Sit down with a piece of paper, notebook, journal, etc and start a list of all the things you have to complain about. Yep, put together your personal gripes list. Here is a ‘for example’ list:
* House payment and bills
* Stupid vehicles breaking down
* The never ending battle to keep the kids healthy
* Headaches at work
* Weird family members
* Too busy

Obviously, a list like this could go on and on, but don’t let it. Take this very list to your prayer time and sacrifice it to the Lord.

In you prayer time, admit that we humans have a tendency to be whiners and don’t know how good we have it until its gone. Finally, ask Him to reveal to you how these very things contain the secret ingredients to thankfulness if we just look with His eternal eyes:

For instance…

I complain about my house payment and bills, but first of all I have a home and second I’m constantly bemoaning that it needs to be picked up because of all the stuff we have… we are blessed, thank you Lord.

I complain about our stupid vehicles breaking down, but then I remember that I said vehicles, plural. Ninety-two percent of the world doesn’t own a car and I am griping because the AC on these newer models just doesn’t get cold enough… yeah, I am picky. Thank you Lord, and sorry.

I complain (and worry) about the never ending battle to keep the kids healthy and worry about growth patterns, vision tests, cavities and fear the onslaught of puberty. Then I see the smiling mother pushing her wheelchair-bound child here at the clinic and it hits me… I have absolutely no idea what I’ve been given. Thank you Lord.

I complain about all the headaches at work, but I have a job, a career and get to feel like I am making a difference everyday. Thank you Lord.

I grumble about weird family members, and the truth is… well, okay, they are weird, but they’re mine. Despite the idiosyncrasies and ‘flustrations’ (yep, more than one of my precious family members says it just like that) they are family and I have them. Thank You Lord.

And, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, I always have the opportunity to gripe about being too busy. But, you know what busy means? People need you, care about you and what you do, and you matter to more than just yourself. Thank you Lord.

It’s an interesting spiritual exercise to turn your complaints into Thank Offerings, but one that’s well worth the reflection time.

I’ve seen military wives thankful even though their spouses are overseas, because they know they are alive.

I’ve listened to cancer patients with no promise of healing or recovery who find thankfulness in the moment, realizing they at least have this holiday.

I’ve prayed with widowed spouses gushing teary-eyed thankfulness because they know where their partner is and that they will see them again.

This Thanksgiving, let’s add another “F”: family, food, football and faith.

Let’s take the things most unlikely to be praised around the holiday table and see them with the eyes of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

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