The One Thing That Can Steal Thankfulness
by Shelly Schutte
As you gather this Thanksgiving with your family and friends, what will you be giving thanks for? Health, faith, memories, each other? Thanksgiving dinner is only one hour out of the year. What about the other 8,759 hours that pass us by? We know that we are supposed to be thankful. We want to be thankful, but somehow our thankfulness falls short.
We read verses like…“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Surely not ALL circumstances? Jesus can’t mean give thanks for the ones that cut the deepest – the ones that leave us broken, emptied, and hopeless. Often our response is to grumble, complain, or bemoan our current circumstances.
The grass on the other side
It’s the beginning of winter here at our place. The horses have eaten the last green blades of grass. This means we feed hay morning and night. Each morning they wait by the gate. Seeing me emerge from the house, they head right to their individual stalls where they eat separately. But they don’t stay separated for long.
Just like my own kids, they are eager to investigate what the other one has. It makes me laugh. The hay comes from the same bale! But just maybe the other horse got the better portion.
Don’t our own hearts question when the portion in our bucket seems to be lacking? Being satisfied is elusive. Just when we get what we thought would satisfy us, a new desire takes the place of the old.
Discontentment will steal our thankfulness. The dictionary defines discontentment as a restless desire or craving for something one does not have. Contentment is the opposite. We know this feeling well when we come away from Thanksgiving dinner. Our stomach is satisfied.
The problem is when it comes to our portion in life. We struggle with being satisfied. Our conversations, our internet searches, even priorities may be whispering, “It’s not enough.” So we begin to grab for tangle things within our reach which we believe will satisfy our desires. I do battle here!
This world – its people, positions, possessions – were never meant to fully satisfy us. If we seek out only these things we will be left craving more. They are all good things, but they are not THE only thing. Our hunger will only be satisfied in someone else. That someone is Jesus.
Contentment is not achieved by adding something to our lives. It’s not produced by taking something away, either. More will not satisfy, neither will less. Think of it this way. Don’t we often assume if A happens then B will be the result.
If I lose this weight…
If I have this relationship…
If I have this opportunity…
Also we think the same way about taking away.
If this obligation disappears…
If I got a break from my children…
If I could get rid of this job…
But this adding or subtracting does not bring about contentment. It may bring about momentary happiness, but it quickly fades because we start looking for something else. I see this in my own life over and over again. But contentment comes from these two truths: resting in God’s plan and resting in His promises.
Resting is God’s plan
If you have critters, you most likely have a fence. The fence keeps everything inside your property and marks off the boundary.
"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." Psalms 16:6
God has assigned, in His perfect wisdom, the fence lines of your life. He hasn’t made a mistake. He knows the plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). This plan is for your best and His ultimate glory.
Nothing can overcome God’s plans. You have an eternal inheritance coming because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Even though life may seem unexpected, God is accomplishing His divine purposes. Let’s rest that He has set the fence lines. Let’s give thanks because it’s not for nothing (Romans 8:28). God is doing something beyond the fence lines we see.
Resting in His promise
Contentment also comes because we know and rest in His promises. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul tells us for the sake of Christ he is content in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, and even in calamities. Paul knew this truth: In weakness, comes strength. Again in Phillipians Paul says, “whatever situation I’m in, plenty or lacking, I can do all things through Christ strengthening me” (Phillipians 4:11). Both times Paul mentions this promise – strength. And strength is necessary because we are weak.
Contentment starts with understanding our weakness. This goes against all human reasoning. Because we really like thinking that we are everything and the slice of pumpkin pie. Don’t we?
When we rightly understand our weakness, we become ready to receive God’s promised, strengthening power for our circumstances. The addition or subtraction of circumstances is not what matters. What assures our hearts is God’s provision for our needs. In fact, He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Knowing His promises and then resting in those promises produces contentment.
Ask for contentment
Giving thanks flows out of a contented heart. When our hearts are satisfied in our current place and when we rest in His promises, we are able to give thanks. We rest knowing that God is at work – He has promised and will be faithful to promises.
If only I could will my restless, wandering heart to be content and to give thanks. But I can’t. Humanly, this is impossible. I need a Savior and I need His truth. So I pray. I pray that He would teach me contentment. I pray that this attitude would abound in thankfulness.
So let’s pray that this Thanksgiving discontentment will not steal our thankfulness. Whether this is a season of bounty or a season of deep loss, God is reaching out to strengthen you. Rest in all of who He is and all that He is providing. Then let’s overflow with thankfulness.
We invite all women to come join us on Friday, March 13th from 6:30-8P in the HUB as we hear more from Shelly and talk about how our souls can find contentment at Soul Satisfied: An Evening Gathering