To be truly thankful

Sometimes God wakes us up early in order to get our attention. I usually end up writing something born from those moments of quiet. I lay in bed thinking about the week ahead, amazed that this is the week of Thanksgiving. I thought about the many things I am truly thankful for—God is so good. This year, I am thankful for his abundant blessings and overwhelmed with the many joys this life can bring.

Completely awake, I opened my computer and read my devotional from Anne Graham Lotz. I wondered how her Thanksgiving would be this year. It will be her first holiday season as a widow, without her husband, Danny. Her devotional that morning was from John, chapter 5. She wrote about the man beside the pool of Bethesda who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. Jesus walked up to him and said, “Do you want to get well?”

Anne wrote about the fact that Jesus’s question could seem somewhat thoughtless. Who wouldn’t want to walk, if paralyzed? Anne’s next words gave me pause, and this blog post was born. She wrote:

But Jesus knew it can be easier to lie on a cot letting people wait on you hand and foot, than to pick up all the responsibilities of life that are required when you can walk. The man answered that he did want to get well, and immediately Jesus told him to pick up his pallet and walk. And the man did.

Then, Anne asked us to think about this question: How do you and I show our eagerness to receive all that God has promised us? I thought about that question for quite some time. I prayed for Anne, because I imagine it is going to be difficult to feel thankful for her circumstances this year. At the same time, I know that through prayer, she will be thankful because she knows Jesus and trusts his promises.

I’m sure Anne knows that she has been prayed for, supported and carried through the most difficult time of her life. I wonder if she is hearing God lean down from heaven and ask her, “Do you want to walk now?” I know Anne. She will look him in the face and say, “Yes!” God’s promises are available to everyone, but they will not be realized by those who can’t or won’t receive them in gratitude and faith.  

The man by the pool of Bethesda was offered the chance to walk, but he had to accept the life and the new responsibilities that his healing would bring. Would he be grateful when he had to get up and go to work each day? Would he be grateful when he stopped receiving the alms of others? Would physical healing solve all of his problems? No, but he wanted to be healed anyway—and he was.

To be truly thankful, we must receive everything that will accompany God’s gifts and blessings. To be truly thankful, we must accept God’s work in our lives through faith and remember that God is perfect and incapable of error or flaw. This life is work, and God’s blessings are for those who will choose to receive all that He wants to give or allows to happen. Romans 8:28 is only true for those who choose to be called to God’s purpose for their lives.

It is easy for me to be truly thankful this year. All is well. My family is healthy and happy and abundantly blessed. But I lay in bed thinking about one face after another who will need to choose to be thankful this week, through faith and prayer. For some this week, for all of us someday, we will need to look Jesus in the face and choose to walk with him in faith, anyway.

John 5 tells the rest of the story of this man’s healing. Jesus had chosen to heal him on the Sabbath and the Pharisees were angry with him for “working” when he shouldn’t. As it is said, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

To be truly thankful means we are grateful for the chance to serve God, whatever that walk might bring our way. The greatest blessings in life flow from looking Jesus in the face and telling him, “Yes. I do want to walk, no matter what the walk will bring.”  

I hope that it is easy for you to be truly thankful to God this week and walk according to his Holy Spirit’s leading. And I pray that, even if it isn’t easy to be thankful this week, you will choose to look Jesus in the face and say, “Yes. I am thankful to walk with you anyway.”  

If we want to be truly thankful, each of us has choices to make. I’m thankful to walk through this life with Jesus as my Lord. Hebrews 12:28 is my thanksgiving prayer for each of us:  

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe”

I pray all of you will have a blessed Thanksgiving, truly thankful for God’s abundant blessings.

Join us at and chime in on this week’s discussion question: How do you teach your children to say ‘thank you’ and be thankful?

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