domingo, 25 de julio de 2010

Giving Thanks

When my daughter was very young, I overheard her praying for the rain to stop and for the next day to be nice. I said, "Honey, I don't think the Lord minds us asking Him to stop the rain. He wants us to make our wants and wishes known to Him, and He promises to give us our needs, but we also need to realize that He can't always give us what we want. We need both sunny and rainy days. If we call sunny days 'nice days,' it makes us think of rainy days as 'bad days,' so let's try to always praise God for the beautiful day He's given us, whether it's rainy or sunny."
It seemed such a simple, childish lesson—to be thankful for both rain and sun—but it made me realize that the way we talk about things affects our overall happiness and outlook on life. Sad to say, many of us have formed the bad habit of adopting a negative terminology regarding certain situations. If we want to be more positive, think more positively, and react more positively, we need to work on changing our vocabulary to be more positive, because it's pretty hard to talk about a "bad" day and think of it positively. To change the way we think about things, we need to also change the way we talk about them.
Our vocabulary, the way we label things and the way we express things, has a major bearing on the way we think. It would be pretty hard, for example, to think of someone whose nickname was "Pea Brain" as being intelligent and capable. If we want to think positively, we need to speak positively.
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.—G.K. Chesterton
It's not wrong to ask the Lord to change a situation—the weather, for example—if we need or want it to be changed. If something hurts or hinders, we know the Lord can alter the situation in answer to our prayer. But until it happens—and even if it doesn't happen—we should maintain a positive outlook, speak positively, and thank God for what He has given us.
According to the Bible, we're supposed to be content in whatever state we may find ourselves. On one hand it would seem that whenever we pray for the Lord to change a certain situation, we are, in effect, not being content with the way things are. But we can't base our whole life and philosophy on that one verse; we have to balance that with other spiritual principles. If we take that verse to mean that we should always be content no matter what, we will never "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain … help in time of need," or pray for one another to be healed—or pray for anything, for that matter.
When we feel something needs to be changed, we should first of all pray and ask the Lord to change it. At the same time we should ask the Lord and ourselves if there is anything He wants us to do to help bring about that change. But once we've prayed and done our part, while we're waiting for the Lord to answer, we need to give thanks in all things.
If we truly believe that the Lord knows best and is in control, we'll be content with His answer. And even if the desired change never comes, we are supposed to keep thanking the Lord anyway because we know that "He does all things well."
So even though we may not be thrilled about the rain, for example, we can still be happy in knowing that each day He gives us is "the day which the Lord has made," which is why we can "rejoice and be glad in it."
"In everything give thanks." In other words, in every situation give thanks. You can say, "Even though this situation is far from ideal, we thank You for all we do have and for giving us another day of life."
How can we say something is bad if it teaches us to pray or we learn lessons of faith or patience or perseverance or love—if the good effect is greater than the bad effect? Almost everything in life has its pros and cons. But if the positive outweighs the negative, then we can and should say that it is a good thing—and for those of us who love and trust God, that includes everything because in the long run He always makes the good outweigh the bad for us. "All things work together for good to those who love God."

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