Gratitude requires focus.
Even though all of us can find something to be thankful for today, for some, it truly can feel like a challenge.
After all, when the storms of life threaten to sweep us away, it can be hard to focus on anything but the wind and rain that seem to be designed to threaten our safety.
But the truth is, we will actually get carried further away from the hope and peace we desire if we don’t reach out, in the midst of our storm, and grab ahold of the anchor that’s available to all of us through faith in Jesus.
How many of you know that the storms of life can be really noisy, drowning out all other voices?
But one voice, the voice of Jesus, is always there.
It’s in the whisper beneath the wind that’s all around us. We need to learn to focus on His voice so we can be led in the right direction, back toward the safety that can be found in Him.
Most of us understand that in order for a con artist to scam us, they have to steal our attention.
Even a magician uses this technique to fool his audience into believing they are seeing something that defies reality.
In truth, they just figured out how to distract us long enough to make us forget what we know to be true. Con artists and magicians use what they possess to take our eyes away from the power of common sense.
Who hasn’t, at some point in life, been fooled by such a scheme?
In life, we have an enemy whose sole job is to distract us from what’s good in our life.
If Satan can convince us to focus on our problems, he has effortlessly managed to get our eyes off Jesus.
He knows that our faith in Jesus is our only hope, our only opportunity for encouragement. He knows that if he can make us focus on what’s going wrong for us, we won’t see all we have to be thankful for.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”1 Peter 5:8
Every time we lose something, there is still something else left.
When a loved one passes away, we are left with precious memories of them.
While these memories are certainly not the same as having our loved one with us, God does provide a source of peace for us, a way to endure our time without them.
While it is absolutely necessary to grieve (Remember how Jesus wept after talking to Mary and Martha who were grieving the death of their brother Lazarus. John 11:35?) we also have the opportunity to remember all the good times, all the love we once shared with them.
And, with the loss of our Christian loved ones, we have the hope of being together with them again one day.
“Your days of mourning will come to an end.”Isaiah 60:20
God is full of grace and mercy. He shares with us, through His Word, accounts of people who didn’t seem to have anything to be grateful for.
As we read about the lives of Job, David, Paul, and many more, we can’t help but share in their praises as God revealed Himself to them through their trials.
The truth is, if we only have faith in Jesus, we have everything we need to feel more gratitude that we could ever fully express. Everything else in our life, every wonderful gift, has been given to us as a result of His bountiful love toward us.
As we approach this Thanksgiving season, may we take our eyes off our to-do list for a moment and look up.
Doing so will narrow our focus, help us see the indescribable gift of God’s love for us.
Through praise, prayer, and communion through the Bible, it’s possible to shift our focus from ourselves and onto the Lord. His love is all-consuming and never ever ends.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.”Psalm 136:1
It’s important to understand that giving thanks to the Lord is not a one-time exercise.
Ephesians 6 serves as both a warning for us and a source of encouragement. In this chapter, we become aware of the fact that we are in a relentless battle with an enemy who wants nothing more than to make us focus on the trials of life.
But there’s more.
We learn, in great detail, the way to protect ourselves, the way to keep our focus on Jesus.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Corinthians 15:57
Just like a warrior must never lose sight of his target, may we keep our hearts in tune with Jesus. May we, even in the storms that so often come our way, praise God from whom all blessings flow.
I think we will find that the simple act of praise will remind us to whom we belong.
And knowing that is the best reason in the world to be thankful.
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