I lose things. I misplace my pen without getting out of the chair. It's amazing. Someone call Guinness. I lose my glasses, wallet, phone and, most often, my keys. And it's usually when I am in a mad dash and have to be somewhere. Panic inevitably sets in.
That's when I pray. "Oh Lord, please show me where my keys are. I'm in big trouble." And somehow, without explanation, that is when I find them. I grasp my keys in my hand and say, as I look heavenward, "Never-mind God, I found them. They were under the desk." He thinks I'm hilarious. It's just my way of saying thanks.
Thankfulness is a much overlooked and misunderstood exercise. It seems like a nice thing to be when things are going well or when we receive something undeserved. But actually, it is one of the primary keys to success and the straightest route to progress.
But how can we be thankful when so many bad things are happening? People get laid off from work, some get sick while others go through divorce. Can we truly be thankful in spite of all the calamity? Isn't it hypocritical to say we are thankful when we wonder why life is so difficult?
Thankfulness is an expression and it unleashes the goodies that God has stored up for us. I believe this is true because He loves to hang out with people who are appreciative. "In all things give thanks." 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It's not a suggestion, it's a command. Not because God needs our thanks but because he knows it is the key to answered prayer. He doesn't say give thanks for all things but rather in all things.
When we give thanks in the midst of trouble we are saying, in essence, "I don't know where the rent money is coming from or why my kids are going the wrong way. I don't know why my car is making a noise or why I have a boil on the side of my neck the size of a Buick. But I know that God is in control, that He will take care of me and I am thankful for that."
Thankfulness releases faith and faith is the one thing God loves the most. Our thanksgiving rises into the heavens like a sweet aroma. Anyone can be thankful when things are going well but it takes faith to be thankful for what we have yet to see. Thank Him in the middle of the mess, thank Him for what you are believing for in advance. That makes Him smile and it just takes is one God sized smile for all your troubles to disappear.
On the flip-side, The Lord hates complaining as is evidenced by a scripture from the book of Myopinions which says, "Quit ye, therefore, your whining." Or perhaps I just made that up. But you get the idea. Express thankfulness even when you don't feel thankful and deliberately keep the complaining to a minimum. Admittedly it doesn't feel natural but this is a major principle in the kingdom of heaven.
And let's not be like the woman who lost her five-year-old son at the beach. The waves carried him suddenly into the ocean and in a split second, he was gone. She cried out, "Oh God, please send back my son." Instantly her son was thrown to shore by a giant wave, completely unharmed. She held him tight, looked straight to heaven and said, "He had a hat."