Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Nothing has changed my life more than developing an 'attitude of gratitude.' I am a naturally discerning person (some might say nit-picking perfectionist). And although I have had my ego crushed by more than a few 'critical spirits', nevertheless, I found myself becoming one too. It was Christ and God's Word that taught me what poison the tongue can hold, and how damaging negative thoughts can be, to others and yourself. Somehow I was able to internalize that and really change my perspective. Many people speak of being a 'Pollyana' in a negative sense, but there was a girl who faced many trajegies and disappointments and just kept looking on the bright side. And what I've discovered is that there is ALWAYS a bright side. Always.
My illustration is entitiled 'Hall of Faith' (Faith being so much more important than Fame). Those pictures represent some people who really faced dark times but found the bright side despite that. Take that boy who represents Freedom -- due to revolution and war he was forced to leave his parents and escape his country with only a suitcase and live as an illegal immigrant until the United States took him in as a refugee. He turned around and joined the Army to repay his debt of gratitude to his new country. He has been richly blessed and has been a blessing to many people since. The lady in the corner who represents Faith has had many family troubles. Through it all her faith never waivered and she has seen the answer to many prayers in her 90 years. The girl who represents Family was an orphan in a foreign land. From a world away her new parents heard God's call and adopted her. Her dream is to be a Pastor. She's sweet and sincere and doesn't let anything get her down. And the man representing Friendship is Jesus. He was generous with his time and his gifts, always ready to help anyone, but despite that he was hated by some and eventually wrongfully condemned to death. And he died. For anyone else, there would have been no bright side to that, but since Jesus was the sinless son of God, his sacrifice on the cross was accepted as payment for all the sins of all mankind so that we might be reconciled to God. He gave his life so that we might live eternally -- that is SOME bright side.
For me, Thanksgiving is every day -- especially the days when I don't feel like there's anything to be thankful for. This year our family faced our toughest challenge. With much prayer and unwaivering faith, that challenge was resolved in a way that could only be God. The rewards for staying faithful in such a situation have already been many, but they keep coming. Why God would care about little me is a mystery, but I am so grateful that He does. There are so many things I'm grateful for, but they can be summed up as Faith, Family, Fellowship, Forgiveness, and Freedom. These have become the cornerstone on which I'm building my life, one brick and one day at a time, hoping to construct a temple worthy of Jesus who means everything to me.
Blessings of Faith, Family, Fellowship, Forgiveness, and Freedom to you on this Thanksgiving!