Girlfriends in God - Jan. 21, 2010

January 21, 2010 

Give Thanks 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Psalm 106:1 (NIV) "Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Friend To Friend 
The holiday season of 2009 was nothing like holidays of the past for many people. Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle patrolled foreign borders, fighting for our freedom while their families back home longed for word of their safety.  The homeless made their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as others celebrated their abundance. An empty place at the table was a painful reminder of the loved one lost not long ago. A worried husband and dad sat at the head of the table, wondering how he was going to tell his family that he just lost his job or a mom broke down in tears as she shared the diagnosis of cancer with her family. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs around us is endless. 

We convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the right house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire. We blame our anger and discontent on bad health, difficult relationships and friends who just don't understand! We keep trying to find joy, peace and contentment in lifeless places and things.

Jesus Christ is the only source of life. He is Joy and Love and He took our place on the cross. That's why we can give God praise when it seems as if there is nothing for which to praise Him. 

One day, a man went to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out.  Another car pulled up near him, and the driver told him, "I always park there. You took my place!" The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat, and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat! You took my place!" The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the church sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit. You took my place!" The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" The visitor replied, "I took your place."

Yes, we live in a broken world and life is filled with pain, challenges, dark times and trials, but today can still be a day in which we can choose to give God praise because praise has very little to do with a holiday or even our circumstances and everything to do with our inner attitude toward God. It really doesn't matter how much we lose here, my friend. I have read the Book and we win … for all of eternity!  We just need to take the time to remember … and give thanks.

Let's Pray 
Father, we come to You today, praising You for meeting our needs this year in ways that we may or may not have understood at the time. Looking back, we see Your hand of mercy and love.  We recognize Your presence and your power and we celebrate You …we celebrate life.

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn 
Take a few minutes to go back over the major 2009 events in your life. You know - the ones that immediately come to mind.

Grab your journal and make a list of the five toughest trials you went through last year. Now think about the results of each trial. Did God see you through it? Did you learn a new lesson or truth? Can you give God praise for some part of that trial?

What changes do you need to make in 2010 when it comes to dealing with the difficult moments of life? Record them in your journal and review them often, remembering that God is faithful and sufficient for whatever tomorrow holds.

More From The Girlfriends 
Choosing the right backdrop for life is so important. If we are not careful, we will hold up each minute of life against the backdrop of financial devastation, economic uncertainty, difficult relationships or health problems. Yes, I know life is filled with pain but this year, I challenge you to join me in the commitment to measure my life against God's presence and provision, His love and forgiveness and the fact that no matter what happens here, we win, girlfriend!

Need help and encouragement?  Check out Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, as she begins 2010 with the series, "Aim at Nothing ... And You Will Hit It!"  Learn how to set meaningful and powerful life goals as you discover God's unique plan for your life. 

Check out Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, to discover how to manage and control stress instead of allowing stress to manage and control you! 

You can also connect with Mary through e-mail or on FaceBook! Let's talk!

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P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Thursday, 21 January 2010.