Today, I’m in Disneyland with my husband celebrating our anniversary. Surrounded by a sensory-overloading one-two punch of overpriced cotton candy and Louisiana jazz, I’m standing in the sunshine on a pristine path of perfectly-shaped fake rocks having my picture taken with two of the most influential heroes in my life: Kyson Morgan and Buzz Lightyear.
Today, it’s easy to be thankful. But what is thankfulness for sweet-smelling, bright-colored experiences even made of? At the end of the day, yes: I’m be thankful for fun. I’m thankful for churros. I’m thankful for relaxation, and (no offense) a break from the daily routine at the CBWC.
But will these easy days of meditating on Toy Story, when my only prayer is to not die on California Screamin’ and the only evangelists are selling Winnie the Pooh t-shirts, shape me into someone who will praise God no matter the cost? Ecclesiastes 7:14 comes to mind:
In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
Thankfulness is not just an emotion for the good times. It is a choice and a necessity for faith.
My friend, a mother of three whose husband died of cancer, reminded me recently that faith is real when it’s lived out. Faith is proven when you have to choose whether to curse God like Job’s friends were pushing him to do, or to consciously choose thankfulness as Asaph did in the midst of distress and exhaustion:
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted…
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Your ways, God, are holy (Psalm 77:1-2, 11-13).
I don’t believe that God is calling us to praise Him for every situation. But without a doubt, the true Christian walk is praising Him in every situation, even if it means forcing ourselves stay concentrated on the goodness of God’s character by recounting His faithfulness in the past.
Paul put it this way:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful (Colossians 4:2).
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
So whether riding Splash Mountain or walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we are called to choose thankfulness. The Bible makes it clear that thankfulness is hard work, and that we may never know why horrible circumstances happen to us and those we love:
For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
But in the end, we are God’s kids. No matter how dark life seems, remember this: God is good, God loves you, and His character does not change.