Overflowing with Thankfulness

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18, NKJV)

No one is born an automatically thankful person. If it’s been a while since you were either born, or spent time around small children, just ask a parent. (I have been amazed at the ingratitude inherent in the nature of my children, until I actively train them elsewise). Or, check in the book of Psalms: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5, NIV).

We were all born with a bent towards selfishness. Thankfully, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! However, in His great love for us, He is fiercely committed to setting us free from the slavery of self-centeredness. Living the “life more abundantly” that Jesus promised us includes discovering the glorious liberty of a thankful heart.

Corrie Ten Boom, one of my favorite heroes in the faith, told a story about life in the concentration camp during World War II. Her sister Betsie was encouraging her to put into practice the Bible’s exhortation that we give thanks in all circumstances — even in the midst of the hellish environment of Ravensbrück. Corrie protested, looking around at the desolate prisoners surrounding her. Lice crawled over them constantly and they shuddered wretchedly in the unforgiving frigid weather. She wondered how she could possibly muster up any sincere gratitude, under the severe conditions they were enduring,

The moment came when Corrie realized that the guards never came into the barracks because of their aversion to lice. This created the perfect opportunity at nighttime for Betsie and Corrie to share the gospel with all the other women suffering in the camp alongside them. In the midst of their misery, many of these precious souls came to know Jesus before the gas chambers sent them on into eternity. No authorities ever came into the building to interrupt the quiet evangelistic mission of these two valiant ambassadors of heaven. Tiny bloodthirsty insects kept them away. Yes indeed, Corrie learned — there was much reason to be profoundly thankful for the lice!

Gratitude is a choice, one that can be chosen even in the most dark and painful of circumstances. Cultivating a thankful heart is a habit that each of us must learn if we desire to experience true joy.

Every time that the reality staring us in the face is ugly and difficult – and we take a deep breath and choose to thank the Father in the midst of it – our gratitude roots grow down deeper. Eventually, the chosen discipline of purposeful thanksgiving will blossom into the overflowing joy of a spontaneously grateful heart.

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“Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him. See that you go on growing in the Lord… let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all he has done” (Col. 2:7, TLB, emphasis mine).

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Do you have a story about a time that intentionally choosing thanksgiving turned your day around?

23 thoughts on “Overflowing with Thankfulness

    1. Aw, you just absolutely made my day! Thank you SO much! (The late reply is because I was on vacation for a couple weeks — had preprogrammed the devos that came out during that time on my site. I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving!)

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    1. It’s one of my favorites too. I have read a lot of her anecdotes, but this one sticks out in my memory in a particularly striking way. What an AMAZING woman! I can’t wait to meet her in heaven and hang out 🙂 (Still catching up on my blog comments!)

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  1. Just the other day I had a young teenager family member ask my Husband and I what Philippians 4:13 means, he like myself has been brought up as Catholic. I’m guessing he still sees himself as Catholic, as he is still quite young, while I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ just over three years ago. He continued to ask away questions about my Husband’s role as a leader in our Church, different religions and so on. Then the next day he called me to let me know that he had been given permission to pursue mowing lawns such as at Church over this weekend, as after talking to my Husband about wanting to earn some extra cash over the holidays and so my Husband, offered him work to do at our Church. I was having a bit of a rough day yesterday, then today I struggled with writing my usual weekly blog on here, but the thought of this young family member of mine and the fruitfulness of his curiosity in our faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, gave me much joy when I really took the time to meditate on this and thank The Good Lord for this. It turned my day around and gave me a joyful afternoon, feeling lavished in God’s wonderful love.
    Thank you for sharing this post and giving me an opportunity to once more reflect on God’s great love for each and every one of us.
    God bless and blessings 😊🙏🏽

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    1. My spirit, too, was blessed by reading your experience, Michelle! Again, thank you so much for taking the time to share it in detail. It adds a lot of richness here, and spreads the light and love of Jesus in a powerful way! I know He is so proud of you! (Still catching up on my blog comments!)

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  2. Nearly every day is made better with some intentional thanksgiving! It reminds me to be careful to not take myself too seriously and to try to learn to take Him more seriously. Thanks for sharing this timely message!

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    1. Yes! It’s amazing how much thanksgiving can shift any day to a better atmosphere, isn’t it Jon? Thank you so much for your comment (Late reply as I’ve been trying to catch up after being on vacation for a couple of weeks!)

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  3. I hadn’t thought of it in that light before, but I suppose if we are thankful for the horrors (lice) in our lives, it also draws us to closer to God in our dependence, our petition, our crying out to Him… and so we deepen our relationship with Him who is our sustainer and who has our eternity in His heart.

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    1. Yes! Reading your comment right now, though, it seems like it triggers a memory of someone telling me that God invites us to be thankful IN the situation as opposed to FOR the situation since He Himself does not actually send any evil into our lives. This person explained that we can thank Him for His goodness in the midst of the evil/horror, and for His ability to work it out into something beautiful. I kinda wish I had remembered that on time to include it in my post! 😀 But I absolutely agree, this practice really does deepen our dependence in such a beautiful, powerful way!

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  4. Being ‘relentlessly positive’ as it often feels like I am has slowly changed my heart to be more thankful for everything in my life. The good times and the ones filled with darkness. God is there through them all, and that is one of things I am most thankful for, every day. 😊

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    1. Smiling joyfully again. Thaaaaaank You Jesus for this beautiful truth! I was remembering this today too, as my dad was in the hospital (just for a day thankfully, he has already been discharged. ) I was thinking about how God is SO faithful in any and every kind of circumstance, to carry us through!

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