I had the privilege of working in the call center at the recent American Family Radio Share-a-thon. It’s fun to talk to listeners across America who are passionate about AFR to the point they are willing to invest financially in the ministry. I’ve been a part of the radio network for 29 years now, and Share-a-thon after Share-a-thon the listeners have enthusiastically demonstrated their commitment to transforming American culture.
Most of us who man the phones finish Share-a-thon with an extraordinary story or two about listeners who donated. Over the years, we’ve heard about children who’ve emptied their piggy banks to make a donation to AFR. And there have been the elderly who apologize for giving so little because they’re living on a fixed income. I am humbled by our listeners’ generosity.
One call that was especially impactful to me this time around was a faithful listener who was dealing with cancer. I mentioned that I hoped she was having a good day. She said that she guessed she was having a good day. She explained that she had breast cancer and that she had purchased a wig earlier in the day. With a smile in her voice, she declared, “Now, my head won’t get cold!”
That was a memorable moment for me there in the call center. The caller was dealing with cancer and apparently the effects of chemotherapy, and instead of being bitter or angry, she exemplified a thankful spirit. I was both encouraged and convicted.
Christians are called to a life of thankfulness. God’s Word teaches us to thread thankfulness through all of life’s ups and downs. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Note that God wants us to be thankful in the middle of all of life’s circumstances. It’s a tall order from our King, but certainly not impossible or He wouldn’t have commanded it. The good news is that we don't have to depend on our strength to do it; we look to God to strengthen us.
Reverend Charles Spurgeon taught that thankfulness should be a way of life.
Then, brethren, we ought to be always thanks-living. I think that is a better thing than thanksgiving — thanks-living. How is this to be done? By a general cheerfulness of manner, by an obedience to the command of Him by whose mercy we live, by a perpetual, constant, delighting ourselves in the Lord, and submission of our desires to his mind. Oh! I wish that our whole life might be a psalm; that every day might be a stanza of a mighty poem; that so from the day of our spiritual birth until we enter heaven, we might be pouring forth sacred [songs] in every thought, and word, and action of our lives. Let us give Him thankfulness and thanks-living.
The 19th-century pastor would have been pleased with my caller’s spirit of thankfulness.
Here are a few things that keep me on track when it comes to having a grateful heart. You could likely add to the list.
- We must remember what we deserve. As sinners before a holy God, we deserve eternal punishment. That’s all we deserve.
- Our merciful God didn’t give us what we deserved. Instead, He sent His only Son to die on a cross as punishment for our sins.
- Although things happen that we don’t understand, we know that God is in control. He either causes things to happen or He allows things to happen. We must trust God even when we don’t understand. He will help us to do that.
- We have the assurance from Scripture that our all-powerful God will be our strength no matter what providence sends our way.
- Whatever we are going through is temporary, and the struggles don’t compare to the glory to come.
- Eternal bliss awaits the Christian. One day we will be in the presence of our Savior free from sickness and sin.
There is much to be thankful for even on the worst days. Let’s ask God to help us grow in our gratitude towards Him. A thankful spirit honors our King, and it refreshes others.