// Lynette Hagin
FALL IS A BEAUTIFUL TIME in Oklahoma. The leaves are turning and my thoughts drift to Thanksgiving. So often we seem to only think about what we are thankful for during this holiday. As I was reflecting on this, I was reminded of the psalmist David. He was always giving thanks to God and urging others to do the same. Psalm 106:1 says, "O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."
I am also reminded of the Apostle Paul. He was constantly thanking God as well as being thankful for others. In spite of the circumstances David and Paul faced, they always praised and thanked God for His blessings. They lived a life of thanksgiving. I believe that we need to take a reality check of our lives. Are we living a life of thankfulness or a life of complaining?
Sometimes our circumstances may not always be the best. In fact, they may be horrendous. But we still need to look for something to be thankful for. First Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) says, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." Many people misinterpret this verse. It does not mean that we are thankful for difficult situations that come our way. No, it means that in spite of difficult situations, we are still going to be thankful to God as it is His will for us to thank and praise Him continually.
The Apostle Paul praised his way out of many difficult situations. I love to read the account of Paul and Silas in prison.
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here" (Acts 16:25–28).
Paul and Silas had every opportunity to complain about their situation. They were spreading the Good News and people were being set free. Yet in the midst of doing good things for the Lord, they were beaten and put into prison. They could have said as many of us would have said, "Lord, why did you let this happen to me?"
Complaining does not change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration and spreads discontent. Instead of complaining, Paul and Silas began singing praises to God. And praising God opened the prison doors for them.
Another example I love is found in Philippians chapter 4. Once again Paul was in prison. In writing to the Philippian church, he said:
"Rejoice in the Lord always: 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" (Phil. 4:4–8).
Some years ago, a cartoon pictured Charlie Brown bringing Snoopy's usual dog food to him on Thanksgiving Day. Snoopy took one look at it and said, "This isn't fair. Today, the rest of the world is eating turkey with all the trimmings. All I get is dog food. Because I'm a dog, I'm served dog food." He stared at his food for a moment and said, "I guess it could be worse. I could be a turkey."
I encourage you to quit complaining about circumstances in your life and start living a daily life of praise and thanksgiving. As you begin to thank and praise God instead of complaining, I believe you will experience peace in your life, and God will turn difficult situations into great victories.
"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)