But I digress.
Thanks, that's the important part of my title that just so happened to turn into the title from a Fall Out Boy song.
Giving thanks is such an important thing, across the board. It's important in interactions with others. A simple, but heartfelt, "thank you" can go quite a long way. It shows recognition of what someone did or said, acknowledging the time or effort they put in. Saying thanks to a server at a restaurant or in the dining hall shows appreciation for what that person does, even if it is their job. Thanking someone for a gift, kind word, or time given validates their sacrifice.
In my life, however, I need to focus on a different kind of thanks, Jesus-thanks. The Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances, this includes the good and the bad moments. I have always aspired to be more thankful, but never really succeeded in making thanks an integral aspect of my prayer-life. I'm ready to turn over a new leaf. Though I would have begun this practice without the "excuse" of Lent, this season of change and sacrifice and growing in God is the perfect time to begin what I hope will be a forever change in how I interact with Jesus.
I want to consciously give thanks daily. It sounds like such a simple thing, yet it is so easy to get tied up in myself. I pray for my own spiritual growth, help with exams, family members and their various health issues, friends, acquaintances, future plans, and so on and so forth. So often I forget the other important aspects of prayer: praise, repentance, listening, and thanksgiving. I won't go into the other three at the moment, because I could probably talk (uh...write...) forever and that would get boring fast (if you aren't bored already).
Okay. So I want to thank God more. Recognize the beautiful, wonderful, amazing blessings He has given me, the gifts He has provided, and the promises He has given or fulfilled. There are so many good things in my life, so many moments where I am awed by His majesty, grace, and goodness. Those are the moments when I need to stop, look, listen, and thank.
But let's be honest, it's easy to say "thank you" for the good things. That's natural, simple, straightforward, and commonsense. It's the hard things that seem illogical to give thanks for. Why should I be happy that my laptop broke? My camera is ancient and slowly dying? I am way in debt for school? My sister, brother, and mom are sick (in various ways)? Why should I be thankful for the painful parts of my life? Why should I be thankful when people, plans, and projects fail? These things don't seem good, these things don't make me happy, why should I give thanks?
Because God works all things together for our good. He doesn't like to see His children suffering. This doesn't mean God stops all bad things from happening, without struggles and pain there would be no growth. Without brokenness, no healing. Bad things have to happen, but despite it all, we are to thank God in everything. He has a plan. When we thank God in the midst of hard times we are thanking Him with the faith that He will bring something good out of the mess. If I look back on my life I see so many times of pain that I would never wish to repeat, but I wouldn't take them back either, I wouldn't wish them away, because I grew, and I am still growing, and because of those experiences I have gotten so much closer to God, have learned to rely upon Him and trust Him with my life and my future.
So I want to give thanks, for the obvious and the obscure, no matter the circumstance, I want to have a thankful heart.