// Lynette Hagin
"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
—Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)
AS THE LEAVES settle around us, we hardly realize that we have settled into the routine of fall. This is the time of the year when families run on back-to-school schedules, football games, and crock-pot dinners. I love the fall season. The weather is beautiful in Oklahoma. The wind seems to die down, the temperatures are nice, and the leaves turn beautiful colors.
However, a few weeks down the road, the pace picks up. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Christmas comes not long after that. The event that Americans commonly call "the first Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in 1621. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863. That year, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
Thanksgiving is a time when we all need to concentrate more on being thankful than on the turkey and dressing we consume. As I have said numerous times in this column, life is filled with stress, challenges, and difficulties. Often we become so focused on our circumstances and crises that we forget the many positives we have.
We concentrate on what is wrong with our spouse, children, employer, or fellow employee rather than on being thankful for the good they contribute to our lives. We should all strive to improve ourselves. However, many times we have a poor self-image because we dwell on our negative characteristics instead of on the positive ones God has given us. I love what David said about himself in Psalm 139:14: "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." I especially like this verse in the New Living Translation: "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it."
When my husband says to me, "I can't figure you out sometimes," I reply, "That's because God made me wonderfully complex!" And of course we both laugh about it. We need to think of ourselves the way David did: we are wonderfully made, and we should be thankful. Often we take things for granted, not realizing what life would be like without them.
Several years ago I fell and fractured my shoulder. Because of the fracture, I was unable to use that arm for several weeks. I certainly did not realize how many things in life cannot be done when you have just one arm. I had to depend upon others to button my clothes, tie my shoes, curl my hair, and so forth. I got a new appreciation for having two arms. I began to be thankful for something I had taken for granted.
Rather than dwelling on what you don't have, I encourage you to be thankful for what you do have. The Apostle Paul is a good example of someone who always looked on the positive in spite of circumstances. One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians. Paul was in prison writing to the Philippian church. He was expressing his thankfulness for the church, and he was encouraging and exhorting them.
Even though Paul was bound in chains, he did not complain about his circumstances. I love what he says in Philippians 4:4–9: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
I encourage you to find something in your life and in the lives of others to be thankful for every day. Express that thankfulness to God as well as to those around you.