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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Thanksgiving Benefits

It's the time of year that we think about Thanksgiving, with turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings. On good days, we might even remember to take time to give thanks. After all, we have much to be thankful for. Besides, God said, "It is good to give thanks to the LORD And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High" (Psalm 92:1, NASB).

I'm grateful for a season where we are reminded to give thanks and praises to our God. It's good to have an annual reminder, because it's easy to become lax and take our blessings for granted. In addition, too often trials in life steal our gratefulness. It's good to be reminded.

I recently had a trial that taught me benefits of being grateful. In the midst of a struggle, I found myself on edge and easily angered for weeks.

The problem started when I got a new computer with an updated word processor, offering many changes from what I was accustomed to. Since I intuitively make the wrong decisions on computers, I had more than my share of frustrations dealing with the new system . Stress was heightened because I was trying to finish a book and standardize its layout—a project where I had to use my computer.

Every day I encountered several challenges and spent half my time trying to solve computer problems rather than accomplishing my goal. The days of aggravation turned to weeks, and I became more and more frustrated.

One day, I was ready to throw the thing out the window, when a quiet inner voice said, "You're not very grateful for your computer, are you?"

I thought, "Of course I'm grateful. I work on the computer all the time. I'll take a computer over a typewriter any day. I'm glad I can delete, copy and paste, and move things around. Besides, my old computer was dying. I'm grateful I could get a new one."

"Grateful?" echoed the little voice.

"Well, I'm grateful when it acts like I want it to ... sometimes I'm grateful."

I finally relented. I wasn't grateful. Indeed, I was ready to throw my computer out the window.

The more I thought about how my computer facilitates communication and how much I rely on it, the more grateful I was. As I became grateful, frustration and turmoil were replaced with calm.

It didn't solve my problems. I continued to have issues where my new computer didn't work like I expected. I still had to learn the new system. But the change was like night and day.

When I was grateful instead of angry, my insides didn't go into knots when I ran into challenges. My mind didn't freeze and my emotions didn't flare. Instead, I was able to look at the problem calmly and find a solution. Because of the change in me, it seemed that my computer quit giving me problems.

The trouble was in my heart. When I got my heart straightened out, my brain and emotions didn't short-circuit with anger. Consequently, I was able to work through challenges in much shorter time.

My frustration with my new computer was minor compared to many problems we all face. However, God tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NASB).

Whatever we face, when we give God thanks in the midst of the problem, it aligns our hearts with His. In addition, it opens our hearts so we can receive His grace to walk through it.

"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" (Heb. 13:15, NASB).

When it is hardest to give thanks, it is probably the time we most need to give it.

Have a blessed Thanks-giving.

Copyright 2014, Kay W. Camenisch. Used by permission.

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