Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Being Thankful No Matter the View

This is the time of year to be thankful. Whether we are ready or not, summer is officially in the rearview mirror, and we are supposed to be thankful for the changes that come as we journey into a new season. The difficulty comes when we look at our lives through the front windshield; sometimes it is hard to be thankful for what we see ahead of us…the problems we must face, the obstacles we must avoid, the people we have to confront, the pain we must survive. Just flipping the page on the calendar will not change what we see through the front windshield of our lives.

I don’t know what the view is through the windshield of your life. I can tell you that for some, November means family tensions we have avoided for months will now be present at the holiday table. For others, November means the last few miles before the end-of-the-year financial pressures come due. You had hoped to catch up by now, but no matter the effort there are simply more bills to pay than there are pages on the calendar to turn. For others, November reminds you about the kids you sent off to school, those who promised to stay in touch, and yet you seldom hear from. You knew letting them go would be difficult, you just never thought it would feel like this.

When we look through the front windshield of our lives and find it hard to be thankful for what is before us, we need to pull this car we call “Life” to the side of the road and look in the rear view mirror. Something happens to our perspective when we pause and reflect back on who God is and what He has done for us. We look in the rearview mirror, we see how all the obstacles and difficulties of past seasons were met by the promises of God. This brief pause, this moment of reflection in the rearview mirror, reminds us how faithful God has been and how His promises have steered us through the difficult times.

Why wouldn’t He do the same with what is before us?

Can I ask...How does the road before you look? Are you finding it hard to be thankful? Reading a few lines in a greeting card just won’t get you there, will it? A few decorations around the house will momentarily lift your spirits, but for us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), something has to change our perspective or thankfulness will fall from our hearts like the leaves from the trees. 

The writer of Psalm 119 says in verse 116, "LORD, sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed." God is the giver and sustainer of life. As we drive through the seasons of life, we often forget to be thankful because we are focused on the view through the front windshield. We are concentrating so much on the bumps in the road, the detours, and the traffic that we forget to be thankful for what we have and for what God is doing. For some, driving one more mile in our present circumstances seems impossible. Your tank is almost empty and you passed the off ramp to thankfulness a few miles back.

The View from the Rearview Mirror
I can tell you from personal experience, the view through the front windshield is scary at times. It can rob you of your joy and fog your perspective of what God is doing. If thankfulness has eluded you this season, pull your car over. Look in the rearview mirror for moment. Has He ever let you down? Have you ever found His promises to not be true?

Whatever you see ahead of you, know that your Creator promises to steer you to safety. Let Him drive. Resist the temptation to take the wheel. The road may appear difficult to navigate, but one day you will look in the rear view mirror and realize just what the Psalmist promised. God has sustained you through the journey. God has not allowed your hope to be crushed.  And my guess, on the side of the road, peering through the rear view mirror, you will be thankful no matter the view.

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