Joyful Thankfulness

In the United States, today is set aside for thankfulness. It was first celebrated at the conclusion of the first harvest the Pilgrims gathered. The feasting lasted three days and settlers and Native Americans both contributed and enjoyed the festivities.

But the idea of celebrating the harvest was not new. God commanded the Israelites to set aside seven days for this purpose:

Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. (Deuteronomy 16:13-15, NIV)

When we collect the harvest at the end of the growing season, we are reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness. What a perfect time to stop and thank Him for His provision! We recognize far more life when we remember to stop and thank God. It changes our outlook on our situation and gives us hope for the future. The verse below offers a recipe for giving thanks:

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1, NIV)

Praise the Lord. Tell God which of His attributes are honorable, excellent, and worthy of praise. It is good to acknowledge God’s character and His noble purposes. We can do this anytime of the day or night. There is no special language required, just tell God what you notice and appreciate about Him, out loud or in your mind, whenever you think of it.

Give thanks to the Lord. Thank God for what He has done. This can be in the moment or later; He is always ready and willing to listen. Tell how you have experienced His blessing and provision. When my children were young, they would regularly thank God for air, trees, the sun, people, possessions, and other things they could see around them. Those simple prayers reminded me that each aspect of creation plays a role in making earth the perfect habitat for us. Whether large or small, common or rare, we can thank God for anything and everything. Far more life adopts an attitude of thankfulness for things we would otherwise take for granted.

For He is good. One reason we praise and thank God is because everything about Him is good. He deserves more thanks and praise than anyone else. Only He is perfect in motive, character, and behavior. Tell Him how you have witnessed His goodness. Recall what it looks like in action and how it positively impacted you. Focus on what that reveals about Him. Far more life embraces and proclaims God’s goodness.

His love endures forever. Although our day of thanksgiving will end, God’s love for us will not. Far more life offers thanks and praise every day because God demonstrates His love to His children every day. In fact, God is the essence of love every day. We can be confident that His love will carry us to our eternal home and provide for us there, too. Thankfully, we will never be separated from His love.

Try out joyful thankfulness today. You may decide to give thanks — and enjoy far more life — every day!

Sisters,
Why is the end of harvest a good time to stop and give thanks?
For what qualities will you praise God today?
For what blessings and experiences will you thank God today?
How have you witnessed and received God’s goodness?
How has His enduring love impacted you?
Walk in joyful thanksgiving today — walk in far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Every Morning

At the start of a new year most people evaluate where they are in life and where they want to be. Many set new goals, make new plans, and use the new year to make a new start. But we never have to wait: God offers His daughters a new start every morning!

It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, Because His [tender] compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, AMP)

These verses proclaim that a new, unlimited supply of His compassion is available to us each day. This is a gift as well as a demonstration of His character. Understanding and embracing this is a key to far more life, so let’s explore it.

Compassion literally means “to suffer together”. It involves noticing another’s suffering, desiring relief for them, and acting to alleviate it. Compassion is both emotionally connecting with others and actively caring for them. God is emotionally connected to you and actively cares about your struggles every day.

This point is so important that the writer of Lamentations states it multiple ways to make sure we catch it:

  • God’s lovingkindness keeps us alive.
  • His tender compassions toward us never fail.
  • His compassions are new every morning.
  • God’s faithfulness (guarantee He will do what He promises) is great and beyond measure.

This sparks peace and joy in my heart. God loves me. His love keeps me alive. He is with me. He is for me. He sees my struggles, my hurts, my burdens. They hurt Him as much as they hurt me. Every day He acts to help alleviate them. He never gets tired of helping me. He never gives up on me. He reaches out day after day to connect with me and ease my burdens. He is my God, my Daddy, my Best Friend, my Today, my Tomorrow, my Eternity! Accepting His connection and care is where I find far more life.

I can understand why the writer continues:

“The Lord is my portion and my inheritance,” says my soul;
“Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.”
(Lamentations 3:24, AMP)

We grow impatient in our struggles. We want them to be resolved now. And we are tempted to think that God is not acting if we do not find immediate relief. We want Him to rescue us, but He has a better plan: to join us in our struggle, to strengthen us, and to rescue our hearts from despair and discouragement even when our situation remains unchanged. We find far more life by expectantly looking for His compassion in action.

This reminds me of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath in I Kings 17. There was a severe drought that lasted 3 years, yet every morning she had enough oil and flour to make that day’s bread for her household. God literally showed His compassion every morning. He did not dole it out a week at a time and ask her to ration it carefully. He provided exactly what she needed for each day. He proved Himself faithful — and reminded her of His connection and care — day after day after day. Although the drought was long, her confidence in God must have grown each day. She had opportunity to stop worrying about running out of food and instead enjoy peace of mind. She had reason to place her hope in God and waited expectantly for Him to meet her need each morning. What a wonderful picture of far more life in action!

The Lord is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him,
To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word]. (Lamentations 3:25, AMP)

Goodness is one of God’s character qualities, so He is always good. But I think this verse is saying that we notice His goodness when we seek Him and expectantly wait for Him. I wonder how often I have missed an opportunity to thank and praise God because I failed to realize it was HIM who met my need. In the midst of a struggle when I am praying for His help, I am on the lookout for it and quickly acknowledge His actions. But too often, I am focused on getting myself through the day and forget about His connection and care. Or I fail to realize the depth of His actions on my behalf.

A friend was driving down the interstate when a tire and axle broke off a semi heading the other direction, rolled across the median, bounced onto the hood of her car, hit her windshield, and flew to the shoulder. She pulled off the road and stopped the car, thankful that God protected her being hurt or crashing. But her understanding of God’s goodness and active care was heightened when a police officer who witnessed the whole thing (and told her what had actually happened) said he had never seen anyone walk away from that kind of accident alive, let alone uninjured!

We have all faced situations where we were blind to God’s compassion. Sometimes we are even angry with Him and question why He allowed something bad to happen. While we cannot see what would have happened — how much worse it would have been — without God’s compassion, we can be confident that He is emotionally connected and actively caring for us every single day. This confidence in His love and involvement brings far more life.

Whatever comes your way today, God’s compassion is active and sufficient to give you far more life.

Sisters,
Are there any barriers that make it hard for you to believe that God’s compassion is new every morning? If so, share those with Him and seek out His truth so you are free to embrace His compassion.
What challenges you in waiting expectantly for Him?
How have you experienced His emotional connection and active caring? Has He ever used people as His messengers?
Pray that you will see God’s goodness today and find far more life.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jennifer Davis