He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010 

Thankfulness is God-Centeredness

As soon as you are thankful, you start to see your life differently, through God's eyes. You are no longer problem-centered, but God-centered. That in itself is an incredible relief. Some situations are so difficult and painful that it seems as if you can't look anywhere. You can't look "behind" you to think about what happened in the past. You can't look to one side and think about what is actually happening now. You can't look on the other side, either, to think about what could have been--and should have been--happening now. You can't look in front of you to think about what lies ahead. It is all too overwhelming without God. You can't see how anything in your situation connects to the "big picture" promises that Go makes in His Word. You feel as if all you can do is concentrate on the very next, small step in front of you.

But stop for a minute. In that small space of the next step you need to take, find something for which you can be thankful. Find something that reminds you that God is with you. There will be something--a verse, a phone call from a friend that reminds you that God has not forgotten, a specific answer to prayer. Thank God specifically for that reminder of His presence. Let it shape the way you take that next small step. God wants you to see that nothing happens in your life that he cannot use redemptively, which means that he can use it for good, to bless you and help you to grow in your understanding of Him. That's saying a lot, but it is God who is saying it! Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God is on the throne, and the events of your life--even the bad things--are not beyond his reach. We don't need to give thanks for evil, but we are meant to give thanks for God's ability to overrule evil and use it for good.

In the Old Testament, Joseph realized this when he confronted his brothers, who had betrayed him, sold him into slavery, and set in motion all kinds of evil in his life. "You intended to harm me, " he tells them, "but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Gen. 50:20).

When you are thankful, it helps you to realize that you are not defined by your problems or your circumstances. God has preceded them and he can overrule them. If you belong to Jesus, you are not defined by your failures, your sins, your weaknesses, or your enemies. They will not have the last word. God will.

- Susan Lutz, Thankfulness: Even When It Hurts

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