Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
I’m convinced that living with a thankful heart is the secret to contentment.
Yet how much of a secret really is it when we open our Bibles? In the often memorized verses of Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT, emphasis mine). It’s easy to focus on the prayer and petition part and miss his encouragement to be thankful.
Because let’s face it: Life can give us ample reason to petition to God.
In this world, we will know hardship. The Bible talks about it, and we have experienced it. We all know the reality of “thorns” in our side, thorns that no matter how much we pray, sometimes remain and inflict pain.
I know those thorns, those challenge-me-to-my-core and all-I-can-do-is-fall-on-my-knees issues, and Paul did too.
Paul writes Philippians as a man who has known great hardship, like persecution, imprisonment and beatings. Yet he professes to be someone who has learned to be content in all circumstances. His contentment flows from a deep-seated conviction that God will never leave him and his purpose will be fulfilled through him.
This kind of man would not advocate a Pollyanna-world kind of thanksgiving. Paul is advocating thanksgiving from the trenches.
Are you in the trenches today, fellow mom? I’ve learned thanksgiving not only pleases God, but it’s beneficial to us.
Thanksgiving helps us:
These fruits of thanksgiving fall right in line with the peace Paul promises in Philippians. For really, they promote a spirit of fortitude that is not circumstantial, but grounded solely in relationship with God. What a valuable gift. And we live in a world that’s hungry for it.
Despite the burdens that will rightfully drive us to petition God, there will always be gracious blessings to see us through. I want to lift up the former and focus on the latter. I Thessalonians 5:18 states, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
No matter what is going on around us as we approach the Thanksgiving table this year, I pray that we will come together to give thanks - not cheap thanks, but thanks from a grateful heart. May we see with new eyes our present blessings, and may we experience the contentment that comes from a quiet trust in God. I can think of no greater Thanksgiving blessing for our homes and spirit.
If you appreciated this post, don't miss my Thanksgiving post last year, The Key Difference between Surviving and Thriving.