During this time of year, many of us are encouraged to adopt an attitude of gratitude. We do not have to look very far to find some sort of challenge that asks us to list, write, post, or take a picture of the things for which we are grateful. And this is a good thing. The Bible tells us to,
“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18
I have taken these challenges myself and tried to get my family to participate as well. Usually, we start off pretty strong and then we get lazy, repetitive or just disinterested. So I wanted to think of a new, fresh and different way to be thankful.
What if I started a list of things I was thankful for that God HAD NOT given to me?
Does that make sense? I’m not sure if it did to me at first either, but I have been pondering this idea for about two weeks now and God keeps bringing things to my mind. I wondered…would those be considered gifts too? Those things I wanted, asked for, begged and pleaded for but never got? Could I thank God for not giving me things?
In Ephesians 5:20 it says to “give thanks always and for everything…” so I reasoned that this is what God wanted me to do. It has been hard and has brought up some past hurts, current struggles and future anxieties about the things He may not give me, but here is my partial (and hopefully ongoing) list.
God DID NOT GIVE me:
~ parents who gave me everything and let me do whatever I wanted
~ more brothers & sisters
~ popularity & acceptance in all my social circles
~ a Christian support group in my public high school
~ the first teaching job I interviewed for & desperately wanted
~ friends who always support & never hurt or betray me
~ a husband who always agrees with me & does things my way
~ a strong & healthy physical body
~ children who always listen & obey
~ peaceful & uninterrupted sleep every night
~ a life without insecurity, anxiety & doubt
~ success in all my endeavors
No, He not given me those things and many more things I have wanted over the years. So how can I still be thankful? Because He has also not given me what I deserve! I deserve punishment for my pride, selfishness, greed, and jealousy (and many other sins I commit daily!). But God, through Jesus Christ, in His love, mercy, and compassion, has given me unmerited grace. Something I cannot achieve nor earn on my own and something I desperately need.
As I reflect on that list, I realize now that in not giving me the things I wanted and still may want, God still provided and continues to provide the things I need. He works ALL things (even the bad, ugly and sad) together for my good and His glory and that is why I can truly thank Him for it all.
How about you? What has God not given you that you can thank Him for today?
About Carla Gasser
When not teaching, writing or speaking, I am most myself as a wife and mom living in Hudson, Ohio with my four very active children (ages 18, 16, 14, & 10). I married, Michael, my childhood friend, and high school sweetheart, over 24 years ago and feel very fortunate to have such a loving, generous and level-headed partner and best friend. I also enjoy serving in the women’s ministry at my church, mentoring young women, and volunteering in the local public schools my children attend. I continue to teach Bible studies and have a passion for local outreach. You can learn more about my life and ministry by visiting AT THE CROSSROADS: www.carlagasser.com