This article for “Thankfulness in November” is written by Logan Stinebaugh. He is a freshman at Boise Bible College and studying Preaching.
There are a couple of traditions that my dad’s side of the family has when it comes to thanksgiving. There is the annual trap shoot, which I am sure that I would lose if I ever tried. There is the yearly ritual of my cousins convincing me to do something stupid that I wouldn’t do in any other situation. Like sledding down an icy hill with nothing but my ripped jeans and a lot of regret. And of course, there is the thankful box. We do it every year. Upon arrival, everyone is given a slip of paper, a small pencil, and a command: write something you are thankful for, and put it in the box.
Several hours later, after everyone is full of carbs, gravy, and way too much starch, they are read aloud to the whole room. These small slips of paper are announced loudly by one of my older cousins, a tradition that has remained since he was a small boy. Once these small slips of paper are read aloud, it easy to notice that they all have a very similar ring to them. “I am thankful for my health”, or “I am thankful for a loving family and stability”. Or my personal favorite, “I am thankful for a full head of hair”. This tradition has remained for so many years because it is fun to listen to what everyone is thankful for. But I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme as each year passes. Each note, as nice as they are, only say positive things.
The longer I’m here at BBC, the more I learn about things that I never thought that I would learn about. One thing that I’ve noticed is that life is pain. Okay, I see how that can sound a bit harsh. Let me rephrase it: Life is not easy. You can ignore it all you want, but it’s a fact. Life is difficult. Families keep getting broken, the cancer keeps coming back, and prayers seem to go unanswered. You don’t see things like that in the thankful box all that often. But why not?
There is an odd mindset in our culture that says that you can only be thankful when things look good. When your bank account is full, or when you get that promotion. That sounds nice, but the Bible tends to burst that happy little bubble. When was the last time you opened up God’s word and read the story of how Abraham stayed nice and comfortable and died peacefully in his sleep with no children? I don’t remember that chapter in Genesis.
What I’m proposing is that you should be thankful for the trials and hardships in your life. I know I try to be. The book of James says that you should be joyful when bad things happen in your life because it will create perseverance within you, and this will ultimately bring you closer to the God who created you. Now, if that’s not something to be thankful for, then I don’t know what is. So the next time life slaps you upside the head with a two by four, say thank you. Because the harder you get hit, the sweeter it will feel when you get back up and keep walking toward that goal that God set there for you. Fight the good fight, welcome the pain, and don’t forget to smile.