Practicing Deliberate Thanksgiving
By Rob Henslin
“… Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~Ephesians 5:19, 20 (New International Version)
It’s quite easy for me to agree with the sentiment of those verses but quite another to actually live it out. In 2012 I was in the midst of painful and gut-wrenching divorce proceedings. Much of my energy was spent slogging through procedural issues and various points of contention, wishing it could all be over and done. I became “Danny Downer,” detached and hope-less.
My friend Amy picked up on that vibe and took action. When we met, she greeted me with a warm smile and handed me a wrapped gift. “I saw this and thought it was perfect for you right now.”
“What? Perfect for me?” I inquired.
“I just want you to stay focused and remember that you will get through the divorce, and your life will move forward.” Inside the box was a beautiful, hand-painted glass plate, five inches square, with an image of a yellow bird perched on a small tree branch. In the upper left hand corner, the word “hope” was etched into the surface.
When I returned home, I mounted my hope plate on the wall above my desk. With Amy’s encouragement fresh in my mind, I decided to take deliberate action to find the hope I had lost.
One day in August of 2012 was a turning point in my life. I sat down at my laptop computer and created a new document simply titled “Miracles and Blessings.” As quickly as the neurons could fire between my brain and fingertips, I filled page after page with short entries detailing in very specific terms the many blessings I had forgotten and perhaps failed to even acknowledge in the past.
I pondered the previous two decades of my life—as far back as my wedding day and my battle with blood cancer. I skipped over stuff like the “blessing” of a parking place close to the entrance to Macy’s. I never prayed that kind of prayer.
I was more interested in the “meat,” the authentic blessings and miracles that God had showered upon me: getting into remission in five weeks following my original diagnosis of leukemia; my two miracle daughters who defied the medical establishment and graced this earth with their presence in 1992 and 1994; surviving a cancer relapse in 2008, receiving a bone marrow transplant in 2009, and on and on. Within a month or two the list had swelled to several thousand words.
What an exercise!
Often my initial response given difficult situations is to focus on the negative rather than the positive. I hate to admit that but it’s the truth. Taking deliberate action was something I had to do.
In those times when I struggle with hopelessness, the hope plate on my wall and my growing account of all that God has done helps refocus and reaffirm my faith in Him, that he knows me, loves me, and even in the darkest hours has never lost His grip on me. My miracles and blessings document provides numerous reminders and reasons for me to give “thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In this season of hope, will you join me in an exercise of practicing deliberate thanksgiving for all that the Lord has done and is doing in our lives? Perhaps this Thanksgiving Day will be the day you begin keeping your own list of miracles and blessings.
Oh, and if you want to, it’s probably perfectly okay to pray for a good parking space! Happy Thanksgiving.
Rob Henslin is a father, graphic designer, rocketry enthusiast, and author. He is passionate about finding ways to make the most of the hardships he has endured so he can help others through difficult times. Much of this article was adapted from his new book, “When You See the Cows, Make a Left!” (Amazon.com). Rob has volunteered his time to assist the Be The Match bone marrow registry (www.marrow.org) and has shared his story through speaking engagements, radio interviews, and magazine articles. Rob lives in Northern California, where the deer and his German shepherd play. Visit his website at www.post-traumaticpress.com.
© 2014 Post-Traumatic Press, Robert Henslin
Rob is a friend and brother in Christ. He has been part of of our prayer team with Ps139 group since the beginning and has been part of the family ever since. Even in the midst of his own trials, he prayed for others in need. I am honored to serve our Heavenly Father with this man God. Be sure to check out Rob's new book, When You See the Cows, Make A Left!