“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.

The “Thanks” Series

CC BY-NC, restlesswaynex, Flickr
CC BY-NC, restlesswaynex, Flickr

The ‘Mike’ is observing Thanksgiving week with the “Thanks” Series, articles of reflection written by four guest contributors. Each writer will share his thoughts on an inspirational quote about thankfulness by a notable Christian. I’d like to introduce you to my guests.

Stephen Chan is the writer of Faith Comes from Hearing. I enjoy Stephen’s very Bible-centered, matter-of-fact way about living for God. Stephen is strong in the word and his writing is valuable Bible study. He will share reflections on a quote made by 14th century German theologian Eckhart Meister: “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Chris Hendrix is the writer of Devotions by Chris. Passion for God and honesty characterize Chris’s writing, which also strives to encourage those who have experienced hardship in life. Chris will share reflections on a quote by 19th century 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.”

Kevin Daniel is the writer of The Number Kevin. If you enjoy humor mixed in with your faith, then you’ll appreciate Kevin and his crafty and offbeat writing style. But he’s no lightweight. He writes insightfully and speaks up on the matters that need to be heard. Kevin will share reflections on a quote by early 20th century thinker and apologist G.K. Chesterton: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before I open a book, and before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, dancing and before I dip the pen in the ink.”

Mel Wild is the writer of In My Father’s House. Grace and intimacy with God are themes that strongly characterize Mel’s writing, which I find refreshing and spurring one toward godliness. Mel is a pastor and a long walk with God and experience in ministry inform his articles. He will share reflections on a quote by 20th century pastor A.W. Tozer: “Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”

I will share reflections on a quote by 20th century apologist and intellectual C.S. Lewis: “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

I hope you’ll return each day this week to read what these writers have to share on thankfulness, in their lives and in general.

Have a blessed and…Happy Thanksgiving.