Every day during Lent, members of Oconee Street UMC will write a Lenten devotional and share with the congregation.
Living a Thankful Life
by Nancy Staton
March 27, 2014
About thirty years ago, my well-ordered life was turned sideways. My husband and I were living the typical American dream: a decent income, a home of our own, two children, good neighbors and a great church family. All was well with our world. Then God intervened! God called my husband into a life as a clergy person. In order to positively answer that call, it meant back to school for him. We had to liquidate all our assets to afford three years of divinity school. It also meant, suddenly… we were homeless with two children. It was GOD’s Fault!
Although I always had a strong faith in God, my faith was certainly shaken by this event. I felt deep sadness, and I lost my ability to pray. For a while, this grief and loss seemed to overtake all my thoughts. It was God’s fault, this mess! What resentment I felt, but I knew I had to do something. I did have two children and a husband that I loved beyond words. Through my mother, I tapped into the faith I had known as a child.
My mother was a strong prayer partner, and a very wise Christian. She advised me to simply begin each day saying, “Thank you God.”… for life, for sunshine, for rain, for whatever a day brings. Say thank you many times a day for each little event, person, or thing. Slowly, I began this difficult journey back to a strong faith in God. I began to develop a habit of prayer of thanksgiving. Over and over again in scripture we are encouraged to offer prayers of thanksgiving. One example is Psalm 136:1 “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” The Lenten Season is the time of year that I renew my commitment to that faith journey of thankfulness. I remind myself that all I have is from God and Jesus Christ died for my sins.
Expressing thankfulness to myself and to God for the smallest of things– the smile on my child’s face as he bounds off to school, or the closeness of a family member or friend, or the privilege of having a soul-mate to share my life– brings comfort. Sometimes I express thankfulness for such an inane thing as having a pair of shoes that fit my feet! God does care.
Sometimes it is difficult to say, “Thank you.” There are tragedies that impact our lives. Some events bring sorrow that is just too difficult for words. These are the times that I have to ask God, “Help me understand this and help me react in a Christian manner.” Or as a promise from Romans 8:26, I pray this, “Intercede for me Holy Spirit for I am unable to express my sorrow and pain, and I am clueless as to how to respond.” I find I have to wait, listen and be very patient for an answer. Answers do come and I can find some peace with the situation.
Also, I have found that a simple life of thankfulness has helped me develop a more peaceful existence. A life of thankful prayer keeps me centered in God. Living a thankful life has helped me be more generous and tolerant. It has led me to a strong yearning to learn more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Being thankful leads me to express, “Lord , I am not my own, I am Yours, show me Your way.” Try leading a more thankful life. It could change you, too.