“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . . And be thankful.”
— Colossians 3:15
Back in the day when texting first became a thing, one of my brothers sent a mass text to everyone on his phone. We all know that mass texts are a bit of a no-no now, but this was the Wild West of text, and most people weren’t even texting.
Because it was going to everyone, he spent some time drafting the perfect message, something that was short, sweet, and specific to the Thanksgiving season. What he ended up sending was “Am I thankful.”
Of course, what he meant to write was “I am thankful for you,” but that’s not what he sent, and to this day we still get a good laugh out of it, occasionally saying, at the most random of times, “Am I thankful.”
But I think he was onto something—maybe he just needed to change the period to a question mark. I mean, we should all regularly ask ourselves, “Am I thankful?”
Scientists, doctors, spiritualists, and secularists all agree that gratitude is good for you, that it has integrative and healing properties. Practices like keeping a gratitude journal and avoiding negative language are encouraged by wellness experts . . . and they’re not wrong. Like many universal truths, the effect of thankfulness can be discerned by observing Nature and her ways.
But gratitude is much more than a trendy mechanism for mood improvement. God designed thanksgiving to be a method of spiritual warfare.
As a teenager, I’d get annoyed when my parents asked me to tell them three things that I was grateful for. C’mon, Mom, why are we doing this again? Life’s hard right now, and you don’t understand. Plus, you’re old and out of touch with the world.
I thought my mom was asking me to deny my pain and struggle, pretending that everything was just dandy and that seemed inauthentic and pathetic. I wanted to hold onto my misery because it felt more real than anything else.
What I didn’t realize was that my mom wasn’t asking me to deny the pain, but she was challenging me to defy it. She was teaching me that gratitude isn’t disingenuous, rather it’s the gateway to authenticity. In its own way, Scripture tells us that it is only through the sacrifice of thanksgiving that we can discern what is ultimately true about God, ourselves, and whatever we’re facing.
Have you viewed thankfulness as just a good idea instead of an act of warring worship? There is an oppressive spirit that seeks to blind us in our brokenness, blocking the pathway of wholeness and redemption. But Scripture tells us that expressing “unreasonable” thanksgiving is, in fact, the most reasonable thing we can do. This week, let’s be those who open our mouths and lift our hands. As we do, any garment of heaviness will become lighter in the light of Ultimate Truth (Isaiah 61:3).
There is much evil in our world, and it’s tempting to let the darkness overtake us, whether the darkness is within or without. That is why our prayers must articulate both our pain and praise, allowing them to fuse and form a sound that defies the Enemy and declares the peaceful rule of Christ’s faithfulness in our hearts, homes, and world.
Praying with you,