I’ve spent the month of November studying and practicing gratitude. Every day I made a list of three things for which I am a grateful. I challenged myself to remember all that God has done in my life. Last week, subscribers received an email urging them to remember the things God has done for them. Remembering is the foundation for being grateful. Psalm 9:1 says “I will praise you, Lord with all of my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.” When you need to find gratitude, start by remembering.
Yesterday I was doing my big, long gratitude list. I started writing things from my preteen years and moved forward through my life. I created a pretty extensive list of things God had done for me. There was a bunch of answered prayers. As I was thanking God for all he had done it occurred to me that I should also be grateful for the things God had not done; for the prayers that went unanswered.
How many times have I asked God for something that he did not do? I’m sure there are plenty but I can only remember a few big ones. I remember the times when a “yes” would have changed the trajectory of the life I now love. Back then, I’m sure I was probably disappointed, sad, or angry. I honestly cannot remember, now. What once was so important is now a distant memory. Today, I am so grateful for those unanswered prayers. I’m grateful for the times when God stayed silent and gave me nothing. Dear God, thanks for nothing!
God’s “perfect nothing” beats my “something” every time. We pray for things that we think are “good” things when God has something so much better. When God does nothing, he gives us so much. When I wanted him to do something about my pain, he gave me nothing and showed me how strong I am. When I prayed for a problem to disappear, he gave me nothing and showed me how smart and capable I am. Thanks for nothing, God!
The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year is filled with possibilities. This is the time of year when we are more kind, more giving, more reflective. During this time, take a moment to thank God for nothing. Don’t just praise him for the things he has done but remember to thank him for the things he did not do. Make a list of three things God didn’t give you. It’s not hard. Everybody has an old boyfriend or girlfriend on the list. There was a job that you didn’t get that led to an even better job. There was the time you had financial troubles and it taught you to how to build the wealth you have today. You get the idea. Give thanks for nothing!
The next time you get what you want and shout “Won’t he do it?!” remember that sometimes he doesn’t. When that happens you can still shout, “Thanks for nothing!”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT