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Back in the day, maintaining a spirit of gratitude was much easier than it is today.  The absence of social media made it much easier to focus on what we had instead of what we didn’t and might never have. 

We lived in and among the present and tangible, our blessings ready for the counting. 

Now, it’s harder. 

Just when you get your gratitude on and your mood starts to lift, a social media gust reminds you the Enemy is alive and well and that people all around you are enjoying what is and might always be out of your reach, knocking you back on your tail feather.  

When you find yourself in this position, the most irritating thing someone could possibly say—in my opinion—is “Be thankful for what you have,” which is just a spiritualized way of saying “Look on the bright side.”

We should be grateful for what we have, of course, as the Lord, in His sovereignty and infinite wisdom, has allowed our current circumstances for whatever reason, but the command to do so should really only come from the Lord Himself and precious few others, those who have walked with you a while and earned the privilege of correcting you.  After all, “be thankful” is an admonition.  We don’t say it unless we think the person we’re talking to may have forgotten to do so. 

This being true, I’m not going to tell you to “be thankful,” “look on the bright side,” or even to “count your blessings” this Thanksgiving.  I assume you, like me, want nothing more and are working to maintain the right focus daily, hourly, momentarily. 

Let me encourage you instead by admitting I’m right there with you.  Life is really, really, really hard, much of what you want you’ll never have or have again, and very little that happens in this life is “fair” as we imagine “fair.”  What’s more: until Jesus comes back, there will not be peace on earth because we all want our own way and can’t all have it at the same time. 

There’s no way around all this, and it stinks, but I’ve found a couple of verses that help me when any effort I might put forth to rise above it all seems a waste.  Maybe they will help you, too. 

“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”
(Rom. 1:20-21).

There’s a way up and out of discouragement and darkness, friends, and it doesn’t require you to pretend things are better or life is easier than it is.  All you have to do is see God for Who He is, acknowledge what He’s done, and thank Him for it so others will do the same.

Doing so may not change your circumstances, but it will enlighten you and carry you over them, each unexpected gust turning tail wind as it adds meaning and power to the sacrifice of praise you offer.  

You see, gratitude isn’t so much about mustering excitement over what you have as it is embracing purpose in Whom you know.