“Thanks” Series—Guest Post by Chris Hendrix

CC BY-NC, @DartmoorGiant, Flickr
CC BY-NC, @DartmoorGiant, Flickr

This post is the second in this week’s “Thanks” series that features quotes on thankfulness given by notable Christians. Chris Hendrix, writer of Devotions By Chris, reflects on the following quote by early American theologian Albert Barnes.

“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”

As things in my life went downhill ten years ago, my brother helped me to keep things in perspective. Over the course of a few months, an employee of mine, her husband, and child died in a crash; I got pulled into a legal fight for the remaining child; my wife had an affair while I was distracted by the legal battle; she then left me for the other man; and my business went under and I filed for bankruptcy.

While having a pity party one day, my brother looked me in the eye and said, “Believe it or not, someone else has it worse than you do. You can be thankful you’re not them.” No sooner than his words hit my ear, they pierced my heart. I had been feeling like my life was worse than what Job had experienced; the truth was my life wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

When my thoughts of pity changed, my perspective changed. I quit trying to find others to feel sorry for me and started finding reasons to be thankful. My situation hadn’t changed; in fact, it got worse. Instead, what changed when I decided to become thankful was how I saw myself in the storm I was in and the purpose of the storm.

Not a Victim

Instead of asking “Why me, God?” I began to ask “What am I to learn from this?” Being thankful changed me from being a victim to a student. Even in my darkest hour God had something to show me and was desperately trying to get my attention. I had been stubbornly ignoring his call and living how I wanted to live. I had ignored his gentle warnings and signals to change how I was living; now his attempts at getting my attention grew louder and louder. God wasn’t content to let me live my life my way; he wanted me to live it his way. I’m thankful now that he didn’t leave me in the life I was living.

The theologian Albert Barnes said, “We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” In my life I’ve always remembered that someone has it worse than anything I will ever face. I am thankful when I think about that. When times are tough and life isn’t going the way I think it should or I feel I’ve been dealt a bad hand, I no longer pretend I’m the victim. I know now that even when things appear bad or like they can’t get worse, God is there in the storm with me. He hasn’t left me or forsaken me. He’s enduring it with me and wants to use the experience for his glory.

An Attitude of Gratitude

If you’re in the middle of a storm and you feel like things can’t be worse, I challenge you to find something to be thankful for. Are you still breathing? Then you have something to be thankful for. Your life isn’t over. God can rebuild it from the ruins where you are now.

Lose the victim mentality and become a student of what God wants to show you. To change your perspective you have to change your mindset. A changed mindset begins with a thankful heart. Things may not get better right away, but being thankful will give you a purpose in hard times. That purpose, combined with a thankful heart, will pull you through.

Read more by Chris on his blog Devotions By Chris.

15 thoughts on ““Thanks” Series—Guest Post by Chris Hendrix

  1. Chris, thanks for this honest and tell-it-like-it-is article. So many people need to hear this message. Even right now I have a close friend who has lost his job and had to sell his home, his wife left him and his children live with his wife. He is struggling to get his life back on track and sadly, he seems to have let self-pity eat him up.

    I will point him to your article and hope that he will see his situation in a different perspective.

    Bless you.

    1. Thank you. I will keep him in prayer. It’s hard not to in a situation like that. Giving up seems so tempting when the bottom falls out from under you. Keep reaching out to him and giving him godly advice. He needs true friends now more than ever.

  2. Chris, I had no idea. Life stinks sometimes, doesn’t it. No wonder there is depth to your articles. We are the beneficiaries of what you’ve learned, and I’m thankful for your faithful posts.

    Take this one, for instance…full of life-giving words and encouragement. Nice job! (You’re blessed to have such a brother, too.)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you. My hope is that I encourage those who are walking through dark times and to help others avoid the pitfalls I made. I am very blessed to have such a brother. He helped me through that difficult time.
      Happy thanksgiving to you too!

  3. “God is there in the storm with me”–This is so true. He walks with us through difficult places, even the consequences of sin. He never leaves us. And losing the victim mindset is incredibly important. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    1. Glad to do it. Thanks for providing the opportunity. God is able to take us out of the storms and dark places, but He chooses to walk through them with us so we can grow and depend on Him more.

  4. “Instead of asking “Why me, God?” I began to ask “What am I to learn from this?” Being thankful changed me from being a victim to a student.” Brilliant! So true. It’s too easy to wallow in self-pity instead of learning what God is trying to show us. I also liked “A changed mindset begins with a thankful heart.” Thankfulness and faith are related here. Great post!

    1. Thanks for your insight and comments. You’re right that it is too easy to wallow in self pity. I think that’s why so many of us choose that route. Thankfulness is a choice and a hard one at that, especially when things aren’t going our way. When we become thankful, we take our eyes off the problem and put them on the one who provides.

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