In a few days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. It is a time to be intentionally thankful for our many blessings from God. Other countries celebrate something like this at other times of the year. But for us, this holiday is celebrated next week.
Something that will be different for us this year, is that this will be the first time in both of our lives that we won’t have family or friends physically celebrating with us. It’s certainly the first time in our marriage that this has occurred. We’re used to having lots of family, children, and friends joining us. And we’ve LOVED it. But this year is going to be different.
When I first realized this, I found myself being profoundly sad. I remembered all of the laughter and enjoyment of past years with a multitude of loved ones around us. We have so many great memories.
But the Lord has been working on me to look at “different” and difficult situations that come our way as opportunities to grow. We certainly have been growing a LOT. Through it all, we’ve been learning not to focus on the difficulties. Instead, we focus on the good that God brings in spite of, and out of those difficulties.
We’ve learned that “different” (especially in our marriage) isn’t always good or bad —it’s just different. A lot of it is in how we view and approach them. That’s not to say that we can’t grieve through the different loses we experience. But we still need to be aware of our focus. That is because we can go down darker paths than God would have us, if we don’t follow His leading.
Focusing on Being Intentionally Thankful
A while back I read a 2006 article on the Save the Marriage.com web site that we’d like for you to consider on being thankful in marriage. Concerning Thanksgiving, the author wrote:
“It is a day to go against our natural instincts. Most people do not spend their days being thankful. We are much more likely to be critical, feel slighted, and seek ways of getting more.”
“Marriages tend to suffer when we spend our time thinking about what we don’t have. When we compare our spouse to someone else, or focus on the weaknesses our our relationship, or find all that makes us unhappy, we move in that direction.
“There is an endless list of people to whom we can compare our spouse, and a nearly infinite list of weaknesses in a relationship. But for today, just today, change the flow. Focus on what you are thankful for. What about the relationship do you cherish? What about your spouse do you treasure? If your answer is ‘nothing,’ you are not looking fairly or deeply.
“When we focus on what we are thankful for, a magical thing happens [although we believe it is more of a spiritual thing] —we find more things for which to be thankful! We turn off the critical switch in our brain for just an instant. For a split second, we exist in an area of appreciation. And our task is to expand that appreciation into more and longer moments.”
That’s why this Marriage Insight is titled “Intentionally Thankful.” God has shown us NOT to focus on those who aren’t able to be with us this year. We are not to dwell on the difficulties that have been handed to us in recent years. But instead we are to focus on those we can pray for and be thankful for. We are to put our focus on the blessings we DO have, rather than those we feel we don’t.
It’s going to be a quieter Thanksgiving Day for us. But it’s going to be a good one because our focus will be upon the goodness of the Lord. And isn’t that TRULY the purpose of this wonderful holiday? Will we miss the family members and friends that can’t be with us this Thanksgiving? Yes, we definitely will. But we know that we are blessed in many other ways. And we are going to put intentionality into NOT looking at what we don’t have. Instead we are going to be grateful for what we did have, what we do have, and what we will have as we look to God, our Redeemer.
Whether you are officially celebrating Thanksgiving Day in your country or not this week, we encourage you to approach the days (weeks, and years) ahead that the Lord grants, with a grateful heart. We know this will be difficult for many of you who have fractured marriages and lives. You may have prodigal children and/or spouses. You may have loved ones who are suffering or have died and are pulling at your heart strings. Those are just a few of the issues we can name here.
For Those Who are Grieving
Our hearts go out to those in different parts of the world that are hurting because of the terrorist acts that have been committed against them. Living in such a sinful, fallen world sure takes its toll in ways that are sometimes impossible to understand.
I picked out a few among many of the articles we have posted on this web site that might help a number of you who are reading this, who are grieving. If you’re struggling with the tough stuff that can happen to us on this side of heaven, see if any of the articles linked to below that will help you in some way as you read them:
• HELP! MY SPOUSE DRINKS TOO MUCH!
• COPING WHEN YOUR SPOUSE IS UNEMPLOYED
• A MARRIAGE IN CRISIS —DOING WHAT IT TAKES TO SAVE IT
• INFERTILITY: HOW TO KEEP YOUR MARRIAGE STRONG
• PRODIGALS AFFECTING MARRIAGE
• A CHILD’S DEATH CHANGES EVERYTHING
• DON’T ALLOW TRAGEDIES TO SPLIT YOUR MARRIAGE APART!
• A NEW STAGE: WHEN YOUR SPOUSE DIES
We know that there are many, many more issues that can attack your marriage. If the list above doesn’t address that, which you are struggling with, please look around this web site to see if we have something posted that might help. If you can’t immediately find it, then go through the search engine to see if you can find it listed there. We hope you can. Also, please know that there is a Prayer Wall provided on this web site where you can post your marriage prayer requests and/or prayers.
Look to the Lord
But no matter what is going on in your marriage and your life, we are called to look to the Lord. We are to reach deep inside and give thanks. It’s important to do this even through the haze of not understanding how we can ever smile again, or how God could redeem such terrible things. We must keep in mind that this is a faith walk we are journeying on, this side of heaven.
Please do what you’re able to find what you CAN be thankful for. And eventually, you’ll find more and more reasons to be thankful. It’s something that God helps us with as we look to Him and obey His word.
In God’s word we’re told, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19).
Please know that we thank God for all our “remembrance of you,” always giving thanks in every prayer for you,
Cindy and Steve Wright
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One response to “Intentionally Thankful”
Thank you so much for your ministry. My husband and I too are having a quiet thanksgiving at home this year. Your message is timely and I plan to take intentionally thankful to the next level by making it a game all week. God is good all the time!