The Gift of Gratitude

I have the privilege of helping to lead an online prayer community for people who have loved ones who are wandering from God, being prodigals, making poor choices.  There is so much pain and loss.Last night I wrote the letter below to our community.  You may not be living with a prodigal, but all of us have difficult events and eras in our lives that make it hard to say, “Thank You, Lord.”  May you be encouraged for whatever the challenge you might be facing.Dear Lover of Prodigals,It’s Thanksgiving.  For many of us, Thanksgiving is a hard time.  Because life with a prodigal can be so challenging, because fear often haunts us, because conflict can be a way of life in our homes—we find it difficult to be thankful.But that is exactly what we need to do.  Give thanks.God is so clear in Scripture:  Pray about everything, with thanksgiving.  In all things, give thanks.Why does He say this?  How can we do it?He says it because He knows giving thanks is the fastest way to change us.  When we say, “Thank You, Lord,” we are saying, “I believe You are God and I believe You are good.  It doesn’t feel like it right now, but I choose to believe it”That step of faith and obedience does a couple of wonderful things.  It begins to change my focus.  Instead of centering on the pain caused by my prodigal, I center on God.  That changes so many things in my mind and my emotions.  I begin to experience peace in the midst of turmoil, hope when there seems to be none.And in ways I don’t fully understand, it begins to open doors—sometimes just a crack, sometimes wide open—for God to work.   We begin to get glimpses of answers to our prayers, of more steps forward than backward, of new attitudes.  And occasionally of outright transformation. So my encouragement to you this Thanksgiving season is to do just that:  Give thanks.How?  Every day, name or write down at least one thing for which you are thankful about your prodigal.  Can’t think of any?  Then start with things in your own life and relationship with God.  Try adding one more specific “thank you” each day.  By Thanksgiving Day you would have named 10 different things you are grateful for.But if one is all you can manage, God will gladly receive that.I am grateful to God for you—that we can be on our knees together and hold each other up.With love and gratitude,JudyIf you are interested in our community, click over and request an invite.c 2010 Judy Douglass