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A Little Think

Give Thanks Always!

Before you gobble up that turkey and fall asleep, let's talk about another kind of stuffing! I've been hauling clothes up and down the attic steps to accommodate the changing season. The change in styles and fashion hits me -- whatever shall I do with all those shoulder pads I cut, tore or yanked out of my clothes after they were no longer "in?" What was the point of shoulder pads anyway? They squared off a power look, as in putting your best shoulder forward. My husband never liked them; he said it was like hanging out with the full back on the football team, but hey, they were my best shot at having a waist!

Now, I've got dozens of them. I didn't intend to be such a collector, but I'm sure there must be a good use for them. I just know as soon as I've pitched mine, they'll probably be prized for a great craft project! Right now, however, their only value is to remind me of stuff that gets in the way. I could end up needing a support group for this shoulder pad thing, because even as I write about how silly it is to hold onto them, there's a little part of me saying, But I just know they'll be back in style some day!

With Thanksgiving coming up, I'm thinking shoulder pads and giving thanks have something in common: they're both being put away as apparently useless. Dear Abby and Miss Manners advise us to write thank you notes but not to go under it if our gifts are not acknowledged. Students are taught to thank "Mother Earth" for her generous yield. Doesn't that leave Someone out, and I don't mean just the farmer? What is the crucial role of gratitude in our lives?

Dr. Billy Graham recalls a key moment in his ministry. For early revivals, he spent hours preparing eloquent rhetoric with the right words to piece hearts for the Holy Spirit to bring to Christ. One night after a service, feeling especially good about his delivery, he prayed with a man who told him he wanted to become Christian. He asked what it was that had moved him that night. The man replied, "When you quoted that verse from Philippians, I went down on my knees in my heart and saw how sinful I really am." After all of Graham's preparation, his words weren't what held the power! He gratefully accepted that lesson in placing the Word of God above his own.

Have you had any grateful lessons lately? One of my kids commented how rude people are invading everyone's space within earshot of a cell phone conversation. I commented that maybe some people are, but not everyone. Her response: "So, how come I know all of them?"

Do you know all of them, too? The question is, am I one of them? If you dare to rank yourself on the attitude of gratitude scale, check out verse 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18. That's the "Praise the Lord, anyway!" verse: "In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." The Christian version of joy does not depend on good times and good stuff. God isn't against stuff, per se -- He gives it to us -- but we're called to be grateful because He has done wondrous things for us, especially forgiving us our sins for Jesus' sake.

I was blown away by how Dutch author Corrie Ten Boom taught on this very verse in her book The Hiding Place. She and her sister Betsie were sent to a concentration camp for smuggling Jewish people out of Holland in World War II. One bleak night in the camp, Betsie led devotions on 1 Th 5:17-18 from a small Bible they had smuggled in. Responding to the idea of giving thanks for everything, Corrie requested a thank you prayer for the lice that women were pulling out of each other's hair. Betsie resisted -- as in No way! -- at first, but finally gave in. For the next few weeks, under demonically depraved conditions, they shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with disheartened and terrified fellow prisoners in their barracks. Strangely, the feared SS female guards never bothered them during evening devotions. Later, they learned that the guards were deathly afraid of catching lice -- give thanks in all circumstances!

Whether you have many blessings this Thanksgiving, or your plate is not so full and the job lines are long, ask God to help you stuff your attitude with gratitude. Thank someone for something. Thank God for the "lice" in your life -- the debt, the marriage mess, the difficult child or the job loss. It has a mysterious way of lightening the load, of bringing us a fresh perspective, of stuffing the situation with hope. Have a little think about it!

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