Be Thankful

As I’ve been getting the kids ready for school, we have been listening to a CD called Seeds of Courage. It is bible verses set to music and a great way to memorize some scripture. The song I can’t seem to get out of my head is Philippians 4: 6-7, which starts out: Do not be anxious about anything. [here I’m paraphrasing….But in everything give thanks to God.]
As I listen to the song, it makes me think about the relationship between anxiety and thanksgiving, which, I would argue are opposites. We live in anxious times—Ebola outbreaks, terrorism, wars, school shootings. Every night it seems there is news of another unimaginable tragedy befalling an individual or a community.
When Paul wrote Philippians, the times were certainly not any better. I guess there wasn’t 24/7 news coverage—so that was better, but infant mortality was sky high, you could have a soldier enter your house at any time and take your food or take over your house, there was widespread oppression by the Romans.
But into anxious times, Paul speaks the word: Do not be anxious about anything. Why? Because as Jesus says, worry cannot add one year to your life. Anxiety does nothing for us, and only makes us draw more in to our own little worlds. I know I find this. When I worry or am anxious, I get tense. I don’t want to really do anything, because it makes me feel so powerless and so hopeless.
So how can we stop being anxious? Be thankful! Phil. 4:6-7 again: Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is 2 weeks from today. Last year at this time, a dear friend got some friends together to commit to emailing each other every day for the month of November, sharing something we are grateful for. I loved doing that. It was such a great reminder of how much I have to be thankful for and interestingly, it alleviated a lot of anxiety.
This morning, when I woke up, my bed was so warm [we like to keep the room cold at night], that I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving. I thought, how blessed am I to have a warm place to sleep and starting out the day with a prayer of thanksgiving made me forget about worrying about getting all the lunches made and the kids to the bus on time.
I really believe that thankgiving and anxiety are opposites, because there isn’t room in our hearts for one when they are full of the other. Make sense? It is a little bit of a mystery how that works, or as Paul says, it transcends our understanding. But try it. Try counting your blessings while also worrying about getting Ebola. I bet you can’t do it.
This isn’t to say the worries aren’t there. This is just to put them in perspective. I’m not in charge. I can’t save the world or my town or even my family from heartache and from hard times. But I can teach and model a grateful heart that comes to God with my prayers. And I can do something to help someone.
So be thankful. Try writing down something you are thankful for each day—keep a gratitude journal. I’m going to commit to writing down something every day from now until Thanksgiving. Will you join me?
And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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