Learning To Be Thankful Always
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. -- Colossians 3:15
This scripture popped up as one of my verses of the day on BibleGateway.com as we are celebrating the Thanksgiving season. For this time of year, I always expect to see an uplifting verse regarding giving thanks, and meditating on God's peace is always calming with all the busyness and responsibilities life places on us. Many of my high school and college friends have often posted about the importance of having peace on social media as we have gotten older. Some have been transparent about getting to a place of tranquility after coming out of abusive relationships, and others have shared how they had to make the difficult but necessary decision to cut off people from their inner circles who had grown envious of their personal and professional success.
I have been focusing on peace as finding more quiet time with God to hear His voice for direction in my life through prayer and to not get distressed regarding the plethora of bad news that incessantly flows from media outlets. Being a journalist in addition to teaching English as a college professor, I am constantly receiving news updates on my smartphone and looking for features that my students will find interesting, but I am realizing that I must give myself a break from what I consider a cacophony of troubling headlines. One of my colleagues at Ohio State Lima recently introduced me to the term "doomscrolling," which refers to the continuous indulging of negative news that became an addictive habit for many Americans during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting on the fear and panic that gripped so many in 2020, I have more appreciation for what King David wrote in Psalm 23:2, that God enabled him to "lie down in green pastures." If I owned a farm with a couple hundred acres of land, during the summer and fall I would take a blanket and just lie in the fields, enjoying the presence of the Lord and nature.
In Colossians 3:15, the Apostle Paul was alluding to the spiritual restoration that David spoke of. When you read this verse in the Amplified version, it refers to the peace of Christ as "the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him," which is the "controlling factor" in the heart that "(decides) and (settles) questions that arise." There are so many disturbing questions that are arising as 2022 is nearing its end. This week, I was reading Pew Research Center survey results listing the country's most significant problems. The survey had a sample size of 5,074 U.S. adults and was published in May. The respondents were given a list of political and economic issues and asked to rank them from being "a very big problem" to "not a problem at all." Inflation claimed the No. 1 spot as the "biggest problem," with the affordability of health care, violent crime, gun violence and the federal budget deficit rounding out the top five. These results definitely show that many people have been stressed throughout the year, and it was not surprising to read that no other issue came close to inflation as the primary concern. Yet, even though these discouraging rankings reveal a dim overcast that reminds us we are in challenging times, the beauty of this season is that we can still give thanks to God for everything He has blessed us with.
In thinking about the articles that I have written on homelessness, extreme poverty, and food insecurity, I refuse to complain, and I cannot give into fear, as I have learned that being thankful empowers you not to become ensnared by despair and anxiety. And for those who are struggling, whether it be financially, mentally or in some other area, I strongly believe that being thankful emboldens the heart and mind with a determination to not just survive but thrive. With a thankful mindset, you won't be ashamed to ask for help if and when you need it, and that "inner calm" that the Apostle Paul wrote about will give you peace and assurance that God has planned something much better for you.
So, as you celebrate Thanksgiving, endeavor to be thankful always and seek that place of calmness. It will invigorate and replenish your soul.
Dr. Jessica A. Johnson is a lecturer in the English department at Ohio State University's Lima campus. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @JjSmojc. To find out more about Jessica Johnson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate, Inc.