November 21, 2013
The Treasure of Thrown-Away Food
My son Jackson wrote a paper about the corruption and greed that caused the civil war in his native land. But Jackson wasn't just explaining a historical event – he lived in the midst of the horrific conditions of this war. You see, for the first 13 years of his life, Jackson lived in a forgotten orphanage in the third world country of Liberia, Africa.
During one part of the paper, he described what it felt like to be naked digging through the trash looking for the treasure of thrown-away food.
The treasure of thrown-away food.
I can hardly type those words without crying. This is my son.
And yet, despite the horrific conditions of his childhood, there was an unexplainable thread of peace woven through his recollection of the story. A powerful peace centered in the awareness of God's presence.
The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what, to notice, pause, and choose.
Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter their circumstance.
Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God's presence.
Choosing to focus on God's presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.
Will we be a noticer? A pauser? A chooser? A person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we're facing?
I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the lion's den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the lion's mouths? Thanksgiving.
After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah's heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.
How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.
And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace.
Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7 NIV).
One of Webster's official definitions of thanksgiving is: "a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness."
I wonder how we might celebrate God's divine goodness today.
I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause, and choose something for which we can truly be thankful.
Dear Lord, will You help me notice things for which I can be thankful in each circumstance I face today? Will You help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of Your presence? And will You help me remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank You for the reality that being thankful changes everything. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Lysa TerKeurst's adoption story began when she heard a group of refugee boys singing at a local church. She had no idea those songs would change everything! To watch a video of Lysa's sons singing with fellow members of the Liberian Boys Choir, click here.
If this devotion resonated with you, find more of God's peace and perspective in Proverbs 31 Ministries' new devotional book, Encouragement for Today. Filled with 100 devotions, this book is a perfect resource for cultivating a thankful heart during this holiday season. Click here to purchase your copy.
Reflect and Respond:
Start a thankfulness journal where you daily list five things for which you are thankful. Do this for the next 30 days and see how much more peaceful your mindset about life becomes.
Think of someone who is really thankful. Despite the circumstances they face, are they more peaceful? How does this inspire you?
1 Chronicles 16:34, "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." (NKJ)
1 Chronicles 23:30, "They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening." (NIV)
© 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Originally published Thursday, 21 November 2013.