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Move from Grumbling to Gratitude

There is a French journalist named Alphonse Karr, known all over Europe in the 19th century, whose passion was gardening.…

post by Shad Fox

There is a French journalist named Alphonse Karr, known all over Europe in the 19th century, whose passion was gardening. His life philosophy came down to this:

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”

Rose Cross

Gratitude is an attitude. It’s a perspective you choose. Thankfulness is a lens you look through to see the rose, even when you’re bleeding.

I wonder what thorns you are bleeding from today? Painful pricks bleed the life out of us. Around our Turkey laden tables are people with pain both private and public. Some with minor wounds that are not mentioned, others with gaping sores that we cannot hide.

I love Thanksgiving because it calls me to stop grumbling about the thorns. It invites me to stop and smell the roses. To really enjoy them. And to be grateful by thanking God for them. And even for the thorns.

It blows me away to think how Jesus turned the Last Supper into a Thanksgiving meal. There he was, “on the night he was betrayed,” taking bread, “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

The word in Greek is eucharistos – giving thanks. It’s no surprise that it became the word believers used for Communion. Thanksgiving dinner should be a time of Eucharist. Gather with Jesus at the table and even though there is pain on the menu, even though our lives have thorns mixed in with the roses, before you break bread, give thanks to God.

Thorns are a symbol of the curse of sin (Genesis 3:18). Jesus came to that table knowing personally the painful prick of sin’s effects. His closest friends would betray and desert him. Facing the physical flogging and emotional abuse of mocking, and a moment when he would feel completely abandoned even by the Father on the cross, this was a dark time for Jesus.

A lonely time.

A frightening time.

It was all aiming toward the moment when he would die miserably with blood trickling down his temples, from the scornful crown of thorns.

crown of thorns
And yet he gathers with these guys, and what does he do?

He gives thanks. Just like he always did.

Thankfulness is a habit. It’s a way of being. And Jesus reminds us that it isn’t something that only bubbles up when we’re so happy we can barely stand it.

Instead, gratitude is the recognition that God is good and faithful, even when our circumstances are really bad.

And sometimes, it’s all thistles and thorns. There are no roses in bloom at all.

Still, scripture beckons us, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Paul was in a stinky prison cell when he said,

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. … And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)

Paul isn’t saying life is a bunch of roses. He’s not in a cabana on the beach sipping a margarita. He’s rotting in jail, facing real danger.

A lonely time.

A frightening time.

And the people he wrote to were a persecuted minority, facing real danger as well.

So having gratitude doesn’t require you to be happy, or to have everything going your way.

And being thankful won’t make all the thorns go away.

But it will change the way you see them. The danger, pain, and sadness of your thorns are an opportunity to thank God for being with us NO MATTER WHAT.

As I was writing this, Richardson’s Florists delivered flowers, a place setting for the table. Maybe your center piece has no roses right now…only thorns. Some years are like that.

Maybe for you this year, you are in a dark place.

A lonely time.

A frightening time.

Give thanks anyway. Direct it to the God who is with you and is faithful and good, always. That kind of a God can turn your grumbling into gratitude.

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