Lately, I’ve had to stop myself from feelings of bitterness. I’ve been wronged a time or two, and I can easily fall prey to righteous anger and resentment. There are days when I wonder why such and such had to happen, why I wasn’t more assertive, what eloquent speech I should have given instead of whatever uninspired rambling actually left my lips. I waste energy dwelling on things I should have let go by now but choose to rehash in my mind so I can feel wronged all over again. I bet we all have something that could turn us into bitter old men and women. Luckily, there’s a cure.
The cure to bitterness is an attitude of thankfulness. This happens to be the week of Thanksgiving when everyone seems to be wrapping up a thankfulness countdown on social media, but gratitude needs to follow us beyond November. When we center our thoughts on positive thinking and praise, it truly becomes difficult to hold onto bitterness.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” -Philippians 4:6
Philippians 4:6 tells us that when we pray and petition the Lord for something, we should do it with thanksgiving. When we come to God in our most trying circumstances or with the inner desires of our hearts while also thanking him for all the many blessings he has bestowed on us up until that point, we become less anxious. We are reminded of a big God that provides. We become less desperate. Our peace doesn’t hinge on whether or not God will come through. Instead, we’re reminded that God does love us and he is worthy to be praised despite his answer.
We are instructed to pray with thanksgiving. We are told to give thanks to him because he is good and his love endures forever. That should give us some perspective. We are thankful for the characteristics of an eternal God, a God that we are not equal to and whose ways are so much higher than our own.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;” – Colossians 4:2
We are told to have praise on our lips. While prayer is typically internal and focused on our thoughts, praise is spoken. We’ve gone from retraining our thought patterns to being aware of what escapes our lips, which is something I definitely haven’t mastered.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.” -Psalm 105:1
In fact, 1 Thessalonians tells us to give thanks in everything… even those pesky trials. So today, when foster care doesn’t really seem fair, find something to be thankful for. Think of 5 things about the child that is driving you batty to praise God about. Thank the Lord for the patience you’re learning when you ask him for help to deal with your frustration. And when the kids are in bed and the house is still, lift up a quick prayer of thanksgiving to God for who he is. Try it out for a week and notice the change it can make in your life.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18