Meet James and Mary, a newly married couple. They were a curious pair, he a widower, she a recent divorcee. They had found each other through a series of interesting events. After a whirlwind romance, they got married to the surprise and consternation of family and friends.
Opposites attract is a saying that I’ve seen epitomized many times, but James and Mary perfectly embodied it. James was cynical, seeing the negative in every situation, and freely sharing his criticisms with anyone who would listen (and even those who weren’t). Mary was an over-the-top optimist, seeing the positive in every situation, gushing happy platitudes with anyone who would listen (and even those who weren’t). As James dumped his woes, Mary enthusiastically proclaimed, “Speak life to the situation not death, honey. Think about all the ways God has blessed you.” James gave a sheepish smile, and then continued with a toned down version of the same story. Mary sighed undeterred and sang out, “He has such a good heart!”
This scene replayed itself many times in various forms while we were together. James would pour out negativity and Mary would counteract with positivity. Back and forth they went. Their antics resembled the shenanigans that often occur in our minds.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15, NIV).
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Like Mary we know these Scriptures are true. It is God’s will for us to live in a state of gratitude. Yet, like James the negative circumstances in our lives capture our attention. I find it is so easy to dwell on what is going wrong instead of right. I can be in a funk for quite a while until the Holy Spirit reminds me to focus my attention on the goodness of God. Back and forth it goes.
There have been so many times I have felt convicted during a church service. As the congregation is encouraged to share something for which they are thankful, I can think of absolutely nothing. I search my memory bank through the fog of disappointment and discouragement for some glimmer of light, until finally…finally I see it—A blessing I have failed to acknowledge, a kindness shoved into a recess of my mind. As it rises to the surface, more good thoughts follow.
This Thanksgiving season, I issue a challenge to you (and myself, as well). Allow your mind to reflect on God’s goodness. When worries and negativity surface, eject them with God’s Word and express your gratitude for what He has done. It may look extreme, like James and Mary in action, but let thankfulness win.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:11-13
Heavenly Father, you have blessed me so many ways. Thank you for your love and care. Thank you for being abundantly present in my life. Help me to develop an attitude of gratitude. During this Thanksgiving season, let me focus on your good gifts and express appreciation often. In Jesus’ name. Amen.