We are to give thanks when the winds howls, the seas swell, and our boat precariously rocks from side to side.
And we are to give thanks when the clouds part leaving a rainbow to color the sky.
We are to give thanks when our nets come up empty, over and over again.
And we are to give thanks when our nets bulge with so many fish they may break open.
We are to give thanks in all circumstances. Why?
It is God’s will. He tells us to.
“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”
~I Thessalonians 5:18
Really? In all circumstances?
But what if… my child has died? …my spouse walked out? …I lost my job? …the diagnosis of cancer resounds throughout the room?
When those “what if…” moments happen in our lives…and they will invariably happen…are we just to put on a happy face and give thanks for every little blade of grass?
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good’, because it is good, if ‘bad’, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”
We are not called to live a phony existence and just pretend to be happy when life is crumbling down around our feet. After all, we are human. But I do believe, and know from personal experience, that when life looks more than bleak, we can find the strength to keep going when we find our joy in the Lord.
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”
By counting our blessings, by giving thanks in all circumstances, is to see His hand in our life. But sometimes life has closed in on us so much that we just cannot feel Him near and no matter how many times we cast our nets on one side of the boat, continuing to do the same thing over and over again and again, we come up empty-handed.
“Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
When life screams of pain, torment, hurtfulness, and hardship…give thanks…and count fish. God does give us plenty of ‘fish’ throughout our lives to sustain us, we just have to open our eyes to them. And once you begin counting those fish God placed in your net you will see how abundantly He provides despite our failed attempts to fill our own nets by repeatedly throwing them over the same side of the boat.
Giving thanks daily in the midst of storms or when there are rainbows, and when there are ‘fish’ in our nets today or the ones from yesteryear, puts our focus on the One who gives them to us. And when our primary focus is on God and His unfailing goodness we begin to feel Him near to us. And although life situations may still be beyond hard, how comforting to know that our Father is near and never leaves us.
Perhaps He is whispering, “Throw you net on the right side of the boat and you will find [fish].” (John 21:6a)
I continue to give thanks for all the ‘fish’ God has and continues to provide:
*long heart-to-heart talks with my youngest son
*being embraced in loving arms
*celebrating my mother’s 82nd birthday
*slurping down sweet, juicy watermelon on a hot summer day
*laughter around the dining room table during a Sunday family meal
*excitement of getting packed for an upcoming to trip for her stepdaughter’s wedding
*her oldest son getting a job after much perseverance
*a husband who works extremely hard to provide for us
*feeling safe to talk openly and share feelings
*God’s continued goodness
May you continue to persevere even when your nets are empty for a season.