Reflections on Blessings and Thanksgiving

 

By Corrie Lynne Player

Heaven Help Us

Nov. 23, 2017

 

The month of November, with Thanksgiving, starts what I believe is our most important holiday season. I thoroughly enjoy reflecting with family and friends about just how blessed I am. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the greatest nation on earth, a nation founded on God-given principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In my numerous decades of life, I’ve learned that celebrating where I am is much more satisfying than criticizing or complaining about my circumstances. A newspaper I write for dedicated a page to giving folks an opportunity to “vent” about problems in their lives or situations they wanted to see changed. While I think it’s important to push for changes when you can, I also believe that what you emphasize the most will become what’s most important. If you complain a lot, you will be much unhappier than if you smile more than you frown.

So, frankly, I choose to celebrate living in a free nation where the course of my life is under my control, to whatever extent I want to make the effort. I’m free to figure out and pursue a profession. Nobody is going to force me to be a mechanic when I’d rather be a musician. But I also know that nobody will pay me to play the piano or French horn if I have no talent or don’t want to practice hours and hours a day. The pursuit of happiness is definitely NOT the pursuit of pleasure.

While being happy is a very pleasant state, it doesn’t come from being rich, famous, or powerful. It doesn’t come from being entertained, eating fancy food, or lounging around, either. I think happiness is a process rather than an end in itself. Looking back over my years of change, challenge, and, sometimes, disappointments, I can see that the times I’ve been happiest are those when I’ve been most concerned about other people or situations outside myself.

Gratitude is a key component of happiness. If you feel cheated, jealous, or angry, you aren’t happy. You’re only happy when you recognize God’s hand in your life.

I like this story that a reader sent me a while ago:

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none came. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. Stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger, he cried, “God! How could you do this to me?”

Early the next day, the sound of a ship approaching the island woke him.

When the rescuers waded out of the sea, he asked, “How did you know I was here?”

“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It’s easy to be discouraged when things are going wrong, but please don’t lose heart. God is at work in your life, even in the midst of your pain and suffering. Remember that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.

November is National Adoption Awareness month, so as you reflect about your own blessings, consider adding another child to your family. Just saying…

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