A few weeks ago, I found a comfy spot and settled in to spend some time with God in prayer. As I began, I wasn’t really sure where to begin. My mind started wandering back over the month that had just passed.
Earlier in the month, we were facing some big issues. I remember texting two of my closest friends with three problems that seemed like unscalable mountains. Overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, I asked them to pray that God would intervene and help us.
A month later, as I looked back, I could see that God had answered in each area.
In one area, He did a miracle.
In another area that seemed pretty bleak at the time, He provided abundantly and beyond what we imagined.
In another area, he said, “No, don’t do that.”
In an additional fourth significant issue (it was a crazy time), He clearly led us to wait. In His time, He came through.
As a good and faithful Father, He answered each prayer and led us to do what was best.
That morning, as I was praying, I realized that more than I needed to pray, I needed to take time to say “Thank you.”
I spent the rest of my devotional time sincerely thanking God for moving in each situation. From the heart, I expressed how genuinely grateful I was that He moved, handled these stressful situations, and worked things together for our good.
I also asked God to forgive me for not taking the time to thank Him sooner. Because in these situations, all the praise belonged to Him. Yet, even though I was SO thankful, I didn’t take the time to express my thanksgiving because I got busy. Life kept moving. I was glad the good things happened, but I didn’t stop and say, “Thank you .”I just went on with life.
One thing that reminded me of my error was the story of Jesus and the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-17.
As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria.
As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!”
He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
Over the years, I’ve read this story so many times. Each time I’ve been critical and judgmental of the nine men who experienced a life-changing miracle, and yet, they didn’t return to thank Jesus.
I’d wonder, “How could they be so ungrateful?”
And yet the truth is that far too often, I follow their example rather than being like the man whose first priority after receiving His healing was to take time and go out of His day to thank and praise God.
This is something I’m trying to correct.
Rather than just going on with life enjoying all of God’s blessings and the way He moves in our lives, this experience is teaching me to “put on” thanksgiving, gratitude, and praise. Instead of taking God’s provision for granted, I am trying to remember to take time to genuinely thank our Heavenly Father, Who gives us so very, very much.
As we’re approaching the Thanksgiving season, I’m challenging myself and all of you to remember to be thankful.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I also understand that during this holiday centered around giving thanks, taking time to thank God is usually the last thing on our to-do list. Instead, we’re busy planning the meal, the gathering, dealing with family issues, travel schedules, and agendas. We worry about what will happen when we all come together, and in the back of our minds, we’re busy prepping and planning for the chaos of the Christmas holiday.
Life gets busy. We get stressed.
And yet, during this time, we should not follow the example of the nine beggars who got so busy with their lives that they forgot to express their gratitude.
We can’t skip the “thankful” part of Thanksgiving.
Instead, we need to be purposeful about taking time, going out of our way, and making a priority to express our thankfulness to God.
Rather than it just being a ritual where we go around the table and say what we are thankful for that year, we need to make time alone in prayer to really express our thankfulness for all He does in our lives.
Whether this expression comes through a praise song, a shout of "Hallelujah," or simply speaking how much you appreciate His work in your life, it's time well spent.
You won't regret making time to be thankful.
“Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.” (Psalm 107:22)
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."