Am I Truly Thankful?

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 is a powerful verse. It is one verse that is recognized by most people.  It has become a mantra for athletes and others struggling through unsurmountable challenges.  Over Thanksgiving, and in the days since,  I (like many of you) have found myself reflecting on what I am truly thankful for.  And, I was actually drawn to the lesser known verse right before this one.  Verse 12. 

Philippians 4:12 “I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.”

As usual, when I reflected on my personal Thanksgiving, I began with an itemized list of things for which I’m grateful:  God, family, health, employment, etc. initially and instinctively came to mind.   Like auto-pilot.  Does this happen to you?

I paused for a minute, and thought, “Wait… Am I truly grateful for these things? Do I even take the time to recognize all that I have? Or am I even content?”

Though my children may disagree, I can honestly say that my family does not want for anything. The necessities (and beyond) are available to us. Yet there are always items on a Christmas list or things that creep into our minds of “maybe one day.”  How can I claim to be grateful if contentment doesn’t come hand in hand with gratitude?

With this came the next thought that I am not worthy or authorized to write an authentic blog about Thanksgiving.  Yet, as He often does; God continued to tap my shoulder. I felt pushed to write something; but, I had no idea what.  It then occurred to me that I’m hung up on the “what” of Thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:13 is not just about accomplishing all things in life through the strength Christ bestows on us. It is about surviving all the things life drags us through. Christ is our stronghold through the storms of life. It is easy to be thankful for the wins in life but learning to lean on Christ and be thankful for His love in the worst of circumstances is a challenge.  Being thankful for the hard times as well as the good – well, that’s just hard.

That’s what the 12th verse reminds us.  Contentment in the highs and lows is when a soul really understands what thanksgiving is. It is time to recognize the true gifts in friendships and family we have. Take time to see those people around us that God has intentionally put in our paths. And acknowledging the gifts we take for granted and the challenges in life that create opportunities and the blessings that they bring – even if not realized until much later. 

A red light can give us a quite moment to truly hear the words to a worship song.  As opposed to making us late.

The loss of a football game creates the chance to hug that teen just a bit longer.  As opposed to feeling disappointed.

A day without power can generate family fun.  As opposed to feeling inconvenienced.

Time without a job reveals ways to re-evaluate where your passions really are.  As opposed to being a reflection on your worth.

These are just a few simple ways that we can be content – and even thankful – in the lows.  When we open our hearts to see the world from a different perspective, it allows us to open our eyes to what’s really important.

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