day 14Cultivating a Thankful Heart by Major Tricia Taube
“..for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it.” Philippians 4:11
For me, thankfulness has little to do with appreciation for things and circumstances, although it extends to those parts of life. It’s more than that. It becomes the default expression of the heart firmly rooted in an awareness of God, His love and His character. If our sense of thankfulness is only applicable, or even just “mostly” centered on circumstance and things, we will quickly slide into bitterness and angst toward life, those we hold responsible, and God himself, when circumstances become challenging.
Paul said … “In whatever state I am in, I have learned to be content.” (Phil 4:11) I want to suggest that true thankfulness is a partner to contentedness. Contented, defined simply as “ease of mind,” carries a wealth of connotations. Paul points out that this “ease of mind” did not come naturally to him. It was a learned response to what we know, for Paul, was a life with many trials.
I don’t know about you, but it has not always come easily to me. I have “learned” to be content, to have “ease of mind”, and to, like a sated infant, rest contentedly in my Father’s will. I know Him, how He loves, that He is good. Having sought Him in the scriptures and through prayer, I have come to a place where, even when I cannot be “happy” about my circumstances, I can be contended and thankful. I know that my life is in His hands and He does not forsake or, as one friend puts it, “waste our pain.” So my circumstance no longer controls my thankfulness. I can “give thanks in all things” (I Thessalonians 5:18) and know He knows that sometimes that thankfulness is a joyful expression of appreciation and sometimes it is a sacrifice of praise.
The prophet Habakkuk was bold, in his seeking understanding from God, in some very hard and trying times. He could not find “joy” in his circumstances but, as the narrative on his dialog with God and the prophecies around it comes to an end, Habakkuk says, and I paraphrase, “I will wait patiently for the Lord to act, when everything around me is the opposite of what I want to be ‘yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’” Job said, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” And Jesus, knowing what was ahead, took the bread and gave Thanks.  True thankfulness comes out of a heart that knows and trusts the heart of God.
What in your life makes you worry? 
What do you know of God’s character?
Job said, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” 
What are some things that God has allowed in your life that have brought you pain?
Even even that pain, how did God use it for good?
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