NEED AN ENERGY BOOST? Try a Dose of Thankfulness!
It’s that time of year when many educators are self-medicating with sugar and caffeine! Thank goodness for coffee, although I know some prefer their caffeine cold in the form of soda or Red Bull! With over-packed schedules filled with holiday events, sports, and various activities, it's no wonder energy levels are low. On top of all that, there's work to do! No wonder we all need an energy boost!
I’m convinced a big fat dose of thankfulness is just what we need. This may sound a little strange, but hang with me while I make my case. Personally, I have found that the opposite of thankfulness can be exhausting. Complaining, selfishness, grumbling, and discontentment can zap what little stamina we have left. Negativity has a way of sneaking into our psyche, robbing us of the vitality that comes from a heart of thankfulness. No one is immune.
The enemy is crafty. He hopes that we get so caught up in the events surrounding Thanksgiving that we forget to be thankful. It’s easy to become sidetracked when something is burning on the stove, an argument ensues among family members, guests arrive late, or (heaven forbid) our flight is delayed. Much can go wrong during the holidays, but our energy tank can stay full if we intentionally choose to fill it with a dose of thankfulness. Here’s how!
GIVE THANKS FOR WHAT WE DO HAVE.
Have you ever wondered why it's so easy to focus on what we lack instead of what we already have? The answer lies in the fact that we have an adversary. This tendency can be traced back to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Read these well-known verses, and see if you can spot the deception that was at play.
And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, except…”
Did you catch it? It's a bit subtle, but notice that Satan said "any" tree. This untruth caused Eve to correct him. At the same time, however, notice that Eve shifted her focus to the one item she could not have rather than embrace the abundance all around her. We all know the end of the story. Focusing on what she didn't have cost her what she did have. The consequences were devastating.
Giving thanks (especially for things we take for granted) helps us shift our perspective away from what we don’t have toward what we do have. The recent images of war in the Middle East are a good reminder of how important this is. The mere fact that we have access to basic necessities like a comfortable bed, running water, and food on our tables should prompt us to exclaim, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” (Psalm 118:1)
During this holiday season, don’t let the enemy deceive you and leave you feeling depleted and robbed. Instead, focus on the blessings in your life, and fill your tank with thankfulness. Declare Psalm 100 with enthusiasm, and let it give you the energy boost you need!
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (emphasis mine)
This Scripture is frequently quoted, especially during the Thanksgiving season. However, it's easy to miss the preposition "in" when reading the passage. The Scripture doesn't say to be thankful for all circumstances; rather, we are charged with being thankful in all circumstances. Sometimes life throws us a curveball, like when a school board decides to transfer a beloved principal to a new building for no apparent reason. You don’t have to be thankful for the decision, but you can still be grateful in the midst of the circumstances, knowing that God always has a plan, even when we don't understand (Romans 8:28).
Situations like these happen regularly, and without a boost of thankfulness, we might find ourselves spiritually and physically drained. Negative emotions can really wear us down. It’s exhausting to feel angry and thankful simultaneously. While there will always be things to complain about in life, there will also be many MORE things for which we should be grateful.
When struggling to be thankful, remind yourself that this too shall pass. It's not necessarily easy, but we can take solace in the fact that nothing in this world is permanent. As the Bible reminds us, this world is not our permanent home; we are only passing through (Hebrews 13:14). No matter how challenging our circumstances may be, they are temporary. For this reason, we can give thanks.
GIVE THANKS FOR GOD’S GREATEST GIFT.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Without Jesus, Thanksgiving is nothing more than a shallow secular holiday celebration. With Jesus, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to thank God for the greatest gift ever given, His One and Only Son. Because of Jesus and His sacrifice for us on the cross, we are ushered into the presence of God to experience His perfect love, mercy, grace, kindness, peace, and joy (Ephesians 2). What a reason to give thanks!
Need an energy boost this holiday season? Give thanks for all you have, give thanks in all circumstances, and give thanks for Jesus, God’s perfect gift! It’s better than a Red Bull any day!