Thankful: The Way of Life
Each day that we wake up, we live in a world with vastly more things that are out of our control than things that are in our control. We have little to no control over the circumstances in our lives. At any moment, good health can be taken away from us. In an instance, our life can flash before our eyes. A job can be taken away from us. Finances can make a turn for the worst. Loved ones can be lost. I don’t write these things to scare you, nor do I right them lightly. I write these scenarios because they are real. You and I have experienced some, if not all of these things play out in our lives. I write these things to reveal to you that if your level of thankfulness is tied to any of these things that you don’t have complete control over, you have some re-orienting to do.
The truth is that there is nothing in this world that you can get enough or create enough of that can make you as thankful as the things which you can only receive from God. Money, possessions, and status cannot make you thankful. You will only want more. You will always need bigger and better. You will never be satisfied.
Jesus paints a picture for us that we need to grasp. When we are thankful, we realize that we have reason to live. The very essence of our being and sustained existence is tied to our Maker. That is the reason we live. Each day that we arise, it is because someone greater than us gave us another day. Thankfulness gives us the ability to recognize this. You and I have no business being here without our Maker.
Jesus teaches us a lesson that we must grasp when He had an encounter with a woman at a well who was Samaritan, and at the well at an unlikely time of day. Those details are important because this is someone that the world had rejected, but Jesus intentionally addressed. This woman wanted water but Jesus had something so much better for her. Yes, Jesus desires to fill our physical and earthly needs. We know this is true from his countless acts of faithfulness. There are countless examples of this--from making manna rain down in the desert to feed the Israelites, to teaching us to pray for our daily bread, and reminding us that He cares for the sparrow and so much more for us (Matthew 6).
So we know that God cares and provides for our needs. However, we have a hunger and thirst that cannot be quenched by physical food and water alone. We have a thirsting and a craving in our souls for more. Jesus teaches us this truth in that conversation with the woman at the well. After the woman asks Jesus for this so-called “living water”, Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
What Jesus is teaching us is that we are not made to simply love the blessings and gifts that we receive from God. No, we are made for something far grander! We are made to be in relationship with God, to walk with Him! Consider the privilege it is that we are not simple beings whose only interaction with the Creator of the Universe is that which we materially receive from Him. We get to know Him, deeply and intimately. Yet, most of us have settled for far less. Author and speaker, Skye Jethani writes this:
“By placing all our focus on receiving God's blessings and gifts…we value what God can do for us but not God himself. We seek a relationship with God as a utilitarian means to an end. And although we may praise him with our words, our hearts are set on what we hope to get from him. We become jerks cloaked in religiosity” (Skye Jethani, With).
Those words cut deep because we have done it ourselves. We have looked to God as a “utilitarian means to an end” rather than just desiring Him! When this shift takes place, no longer will our lives be marked by bitterness, envy, hurry, and negativity. Our lives will be radically thankful as each moment with our Maker is far grander than anything this earth has to offer. Thankfulness is the way of life, and life to the fullest.
Choose thankful. Rep thankful. Live thankful.