“Rehearse the mercies of God frequently, especially those who are deep in dark places.”
How do we find an attitude of gratitude when life sucks? When things don’t go our way? When the train is stuck on the tracks and we can’t get to where we need to go? Or our kids won’t speak to us? Or we get a bad diagnosis from the doctor? Or the checkbook math isn’t making sense and our bills pile up?
Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. Her family was caught hiding Jews in their home, and were thrown into Ravensbruck Camp prison. Amongst her imprisonment, Corrie tells of a time of thanksgiving in her book, The Hiding Place.
Corrie and Betsie were able to smuggle a tattered bible into the flea infested barracks, which Nazi officers would never enter. When the passage “Be thankful in all circumstances” [1 Thess 5:18] was revealed to Betsie, she insisted they be thankful for everything, and began praying aloud.
Betsie thanked God for all things, but when she thanked Him for even the fleas, Corrie disagreed. She hated fleas. They were nasty, pesky little bugs that kept biting her legs, and she would not be thankful for them. However, Betsie persisted, and Corrie succumbed to being thankful IN all circumstances.
Later, they heard the Nazi officers refused to enter the barracks because of the fleas. The fleas kept them safe from being molested and abused. Dozens of desperate women were free to hear the comforting, hope-giving Word of God, and God made sure their deepest needs were met.
Sometimes, blessings come out of adversity. Fleas look different for everyone; financial issues, marital crisis, or health problems can overwhelm our thoughts. God gives many warnings in scripture that un-thankfulness leads to pointless thinking. It takes practice to be thankful in spite our trials or fleas. We must be intentional to cultivate (nourish or fertilize) and practice thanksgiving.
Seeds of ingratitude cannot grow in a thankful heart.
In order to cultivate thankfulness, we must persevere. How? We turn to the Psalmist:
“We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.” [Psalm 75:1 NLT]
The Hebrew translation for the words “give thanks” in this passage is Yada, which has a wonderful, word-picture meaning. It’s the idea of throwing our hands up to God with thanks and praise. As if we are literally throwing our hands up filled with tangible words of thanks, tossing them up like confetti to the Lord. God loves when we give thanks to Him, particularly when we are in the midst of trials. He especially loves when we share our yada’s with others.
Last week during one of our talks with the program participants, we discussed persevering in our thankfulness, especially amongst the fleas. And then we yada’d. We gave thanks for everything. Each yada was sweet, beautiful music to our ears. We yada’d for our children, yada’d for our recovery, for our safety and yada’d for our very lives. And, we even yada’d for our fleas.
This Thanksgiving, as you sit around the dinner table with your loved ones, consider practicing yada; throw your thanks up to God like confetti. I have no doubt He will be pleased.
We would LOVE for you to leave your yada in the comments below.