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Choosing to Be "Thinkful"

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture for the hundredth time and had it speak to your heart and soul in a way it never had before? I hope and pray so. That very aspect of the Scriptures is what is meant by the Living Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). It is never outdated or stale, and it will always be used by our Heavenly Father to meet our needs in a way nothing else can. I recently (this past Sunday, as a matter of fact) had that type of Living Word experience that I’m excited to share with you today.
Our responsive reading for the morning service was Psalm 100. As soon as I received that information from the speaker, Dave Rozelle, I typed it onto the weekly church bulletin (one of my roles at my local church). Immediately, I was reciting it in my mind.

Psalm 100 KJV

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD, he is God; it is he who hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations."

The sermon based upon this passage came on the heels of a memorial service the day before, honoring the memory of the speaker’s mother—a dear saint of God who had served in my church since the 1960s—first as pastor’s wife, then in more recent years, as a faithful member. One of Dave's first points was that thankfulness is a choice—choosing to face our circumstances in a way that isn’t controlled by the circumstances. Though he had recently lost his mother and shared that although she is and will be dearly missed, he could rejoice that she was with the Lord and could hope for nothing better (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Dave also referenced one of the missionaries he works with who, back in 2017, developed a blog titled “Thinkful.” Out of curiosity, I Googled it (today, not during the service) and was fascinated to read how she defined this concept.
Th(i)nkful (adj) describes people who choose to download grace/strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance in their life and to express that thanks orally or in written form.
I’ve memorized verses such as “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, ‘Rejoice,’” “In everything give thanks . . .,” and “Count it all joy . . .,” so I know that it is my responsibility to be thankful, and I also know that I’m not always great at feeling grateful for certain things, especially when they bring inconvenience, pain, or struggle into my life. I am definitely a “work in progress” on this front.

Choices have consequences.

During this message on Sunday, the realization that thankfulness wasn’t just a responsibility or an imperative, but a choice, flooded my soul with a new perspective. You see, choices have consequences—a mantra I “chanted” to my three girls since they could pronounce the longer of the two “c” words here. But, I had never considered that by making the choice to be thankful or not, I was also choosing the consequences that went with my choice. If I truly thought it through when faced with a less-than-joyful circumstance, I would not choose to live in frustration, discouragement, anger, or bitterness. But wasn’t that exactly what I was doing when I decided to not “rejoice, give thanks, or count it all joy”? (Mind blown, as shown in the emoji below)
So today, I am “thinkful” for:
  1. A thoughtful and godly husband with whom I read God’s Word and pray daily.
  2. My three beautiful daughters and the fact that, as adults, they come to me with their burdens, excitement, and prayer requests.
  3. Reasons for Hope and the challenges of being part of a dynamic and growing ministry.
  4. Being healthy (and I pray that I will maintain this attitude of thankfulness should that change).

What about you?

Are you facing circumstances today that feel burdensome and overwhelming? Is anxiety knocking at your door? Are you tired of striving and trying to handle it yourself? "Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and not we ourselves."
Could the discouragement you are experiencing be the result of your choosing not to be thankful? (God wants us to own our “stuff.”) Instead, as the psalmist says in Psalm 100:4, decide to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (By the way, studies show that neurobiologically, gratitude pushes anxiety out of the brain. God’s solution is always the best!)

Could the discouragement you are experiencing be the result of your choosing not to be thankful?

Biblical thankfulness, i.e., gratitude with a biblical worldview, is a game changer—
  1. It takes the focus off the circumstances and onto the Lord—our Hope and Peace—allowing us to rise above the circumstances.
  2. It causes us to acknowledge the Lord as the one true God and Creator, putting the cares of this world in proper perspective.
  3. It reminds us of God’s steadfast love and His faithfulness.
Biblical thankfulness is also synonymous with “thinkfulness,” as I cannot truly have a thankful heart if I do not intentionally think through and process my approach to trials and tribulations, ensuring that my choices align with the consequences I truly desire.

Philippians 4:6,7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Author Bio:
Holly Varnum, Director of Curriculum Development at Reasons for Hope, serves as the Managing Editor for our book projects and weekly blogs, writes blogs and curricular materials to support many of our media resources, speaks at conferences, and trains Christian educators. With degrees in education, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration, she comes with over three decades of experience in working with teens and adults in camp ministry, teaching and administration, and curriculum writing (A Beka Book, Focus on the Family, and Answers in Genesis to name a few). God has provided her with a well-rounded educational perspective through service in Christian schools, charter schools, public schools, homeschooling, Christian camps, and local church ministry. She has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, administrator, camp counselor, Sunday School teacher, ladies’ Bible Study teacher, and conference speaker. She looks forward to using her passion for God’s truth within the context of Reasons for Hope.

Her hobbies include cooking, baking, hiking, camping, traveling, and working on do-it-yourself projects. Holly and her husband, Paul, also enjoy any time they can spend with their three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren (so far!). They live between the beautiful states of Maine and southern New Jersey, and yes, they eat lobster (properly pronounced “lobstah”) and crab whenever they get a chance!


To learn more about Holly, or to book her as a speaker for educational, ladies', or girls' events, click HERE.

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