Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Thankful Attitude

     This week's Bible study focused on the attitude of thankfulness which replaces a complaining attitude. You can read what I learned about a complaining attitude here. This week was much harder than what I thought it would be. I'm generally a thankful, appreciative person for the most part, so I really thought this week would be no big deal. I realize there are some areas in my life that I really struggle with thankfulness.

     James MacDonald says, "Joy begins to flow when you stop focusing on the glass half empty but instead on the glass half full by giving thanks." (pp. 34) Thankfulness is a choice based in reality. Not sugar coated. Not through rose colored glasses. Reality. Thankfulness is a choice I can make right now in the midst of dealing with my miscarriage. I can complain and mope about the fact that I won't meet my baby unitl heaven, or I can be thankful for the 14 weeks I carried my baby inside my belly. I can complain about the pain of loss, or I can be thankful for the joy I felt while carrying my child. I can complain about one baby I lost, or I can be thankful that the Lord blessed me with three children and has allowed me to keep two of those babies with me on this earth.

     Being thankful is being like Christ. Thankfulness is something Christ modeled during His earthly life. He thanked God when he fed the 5,000 (John 6:1-13). He thanked God for the sacrifice of Himself (Luke 22:19). He thanked God for hearing Him (John 11:41). God is using this journey through miscarriage to make me more like Himself. If I'm going to be more like Jesus, I have to find ways to be thankful even in the midst of the pain of miscarriage. It's a prayer I'm praying everyday. Give me the desire to be thankful. Show reasons to be thankful. If you ask, He does answer. I had a really rough and overwhelming day a couple of weeks ago. I asked Him to show me something good from my miscarriage. I asked Him to give a reason I can be thankful because of my miscarriage. I received a Facebook message the next day that contained something good that has come from miscarriage. Something I can be thankful for. Maybe one day, I'll be able to share that story with you.

     Thankfulness is choosing to focus on all you have rather than what you want or what you don't have. For me right now, it means focusing on Logan and Lucas and time the Lord has given me with them. It means I'm looking for more ways to spend one on one time with each of them and for us all together. It doesn't mean that I'm not grieving and feeling the emotions of my miscarriage. What it means is I choose to dwell and focus on what I have (time with Logan and Lucas) rather than what I don't have (time with my baby).

      Thankfulness is recognizing all God has done for me and realizing that nothing, including breath, is possible without Him. I can be thankful for specific prayers He has answered like my prayer above, or the prayers that He has answered and continues to answer about my sweet niece, Justice Jewell. I can be thankful for the hope He extends to me every day. I have the hope of eternity with Him. I have the hope that He hears and answers my prayers. I have hope from looking back and reflecting on His faithfulness in the past. It gives me hope that He'll continue to be faithful to me in the present and in the future. I can be thankful that He will complete the work He is doing in my life. I'm a work in progress. He's not through with me yet, and won't be until I reach eternity and I'm molded to be like Jesus. This journey through miscarriage is part of that work He is doing in my life. Even though it's painful, I can be thankful for the work He is doing in my life through my miscarriage.

     "Faith grows in the soil of thankfulness." "Our thankful attitude is anchored in the assurances of our faith in Christ." (pp.45) Thankfulness and faith go hand in hand. In the midst of trials or temptations thankfulness can be born out of focusing on the truth of our identity in Christ. Some of the truths I've been focusing on are: I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10), He will complete His good work in me (Philippians 1:6), I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), and He works all things together for my good (Romans 8:28). As I focus on these truths, my faith grows, my thankfulness grows, and He strengthens me to continue through this trial. MacDonald also makes the point that thankfulness is a spiritual discipline. It doesn't just happen; thankfulness is something we must practice. Thankful isn't just something I am; it's something I do.

     Thankfulness is recognizing that God is working to use the painful to bring something good. To bring beauty from the ugly. Thankfulness is an act of hope that says, "I know God is using this to bring about good for me. I trust that my future will be okay because of God and who He is."

     I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago titled A Hard Thing. (You can click on the title to read it.) That post was written when I realized that God wanted me to find reasons to be thankful within and for this miscarriage. At that point, I didn't even desire to be thankful about this. So I began to pray that God first would give me the desire for thankfulness, and then would provide me with the reasons, the good to be thankful for. God has been faithful to answer those prayers. He gave me the desire and now He's revealing to me reasons I can be thankful in and for this miscarriage. Being thankful doesn't mean I don't feel the pain. It doesn't mean I pretend miscarriage is good. There's nothing good about miscarriage. It's doesn't mean that I'm happy I lost my baby. I'm not. Being thankful about difficult trials and temptations doesn't mean you're happy about those things. It means you choose to focus on the positive that God is bringing from them. Thankfulness does make you a happier person. How can you not be a happier person when you're choosing to dwell on the good rather than the bad?

"give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
I Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)

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