"I think thankfulness is like a flower. It needs care and cherishing if it to live and grow. Perhaps thankfulness, even more than some other qualities that seem to come naturally to us, is in need of cherishing, because of the withering winds of life. The best way to cause it to grow strong in our hearts is to be careful never to let ourselves be unthankful. Has anyone done anything to help me and I have said nothing about it? (It is not enough to thank God; we should thank the one to whom He gave the loving thought that caused the loving deed.) Has anyone prepared a surprise for me and I have been blind to it? or if I noticed it, have I been dumb? If we have been careless about this, let us put it right. I often think we must disappoint our kind Father by not noticing the little things (as well as the countless great things) that He does to give us pleasure. Perhaps we should begin by thinking more of what His children do for love of Him and for love of us too." - Amy Carmichael
Last night I let Eden watch a few minutes of Nick Jr. and the Blue's Clues guy came on and was talking about thankfulness and what all the characters on his show are thankful for, and I thought-- this is such a wonderful reminder. Everybody, whether they know God or not, can recognize that an attitude of thankfulness is a good thing. Not only does it serve as a hot air balloon for my heart, it also is a weapon against destructive thoughts and self pity. I found myself this morning thinking about problems I see in other people and I had to stop myself and say, "Charis, how about we be grateful for the wonderful people in our life?" and so I started to list out reasons I am thankful for the people I know and those nasty little thoughts retreated. I think it goes along with the verse that if we draw near to God, the devil will flee from us. Psalms tells us to enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts, and our courts with praise. When I was little I'd associate that verse with actually being in Heaven, but I think it's a right-now-reality. If our bodies are temple of the Holy Spirit, then His presence is with us, and He is attracted to thankfulness. So boom...when you get thankful, things like depression, moodiness, anxiety, complaining, bitterness, basically anything that is against God, flees from you. It's like turning on a light in a dark room. I've never seen a shred of darkness put up a fight. It's go to go.
As for the quote at the top, I stumbled across this little treasure of a reminder this morning, and it seemed so fitting for today. Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India, and for the last twenty years of her life she was bedridden with a chronic illness. She spent those years writing letters to all of the people she knew and cared for, encouraging them to love Jesus, to love others, and to keep the faith. This is one of her letters. It never really impressed me so much that she'd write all these letters (which have been compiled into multiple books)until yesterday- when I had my first encounter with food poisoning.
Chad and I spent almost an entire day literally plastered to our couches, and the worst part was, we couldn't watch the food network shows we love, because we'd feel even worse. There were so many times yesterday where I thought about how terrible sickness is, and how its really hard to focus on the Lord when I feel like my stomach is attacking me.
While we were laying on our couches, bundled in blankets and trying to nibble on saltines and taking tentative sips of ginger ale, Chad kept saying how we needed to focus on what God's done for us (probably because I was complaining too much). And when we started reciting all the ways He has been faithful to us, it wasn't long before we started to forget about how sick we felt. And during my worse moments, Eden would be zooming past me with her popper vacuum trailing behind her, and I'd burst out laughing. And it helped so much to laugh too. Its amazing how God made laughter, made thankfulness and praise as buoys for our souls. They keep us afloat.
It's amazing too what being sick did for my perspective. I woke up this morning and all I wanted to do was clean the house. I have been beside myself with happiness. I've managed to do three loads of laundry, clean two bathrooms, scrub down our sinks, refrigerator, oven, and microwave, and organize our ungodly number of magazines...and its only 10:30. I feel like walking outside and shouting, "I'm alive! I will be okay!" There were moments yesterday I thought I'd never eat again. And really, I have to admit that I'm really thankful for food poisoning. Because it taught me how great my day to day life is.
"through Him, then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." Hebrews 13:5