You cannot read the Bible without seeing all the commands to “be thankful” in all things. I have not been a very thankful person most of my life-I was always willing to work harder for “more” and not taking a lot of time to appreciate what I already had. But when you don’t express thankfulness, you end up in a mindset of dissatisfaction with all the “lack” in your life and you can begin to feel like God and everybody else owes you something… When I got hit by the Holy Spirit pretty hard seven years ago, I prayed each day for Him to help be to become a more humble person, and to help me to love others like Jesus did. I knew that I could not represent Jesus if I could not love someone and really mean it for them. I asked Him to give me a tender heart that compelled me to be interested in the difficulties other people were suffering, as I was a person who could see a need “and walk on by” while feeling good that I went to church and donated money for such things. However, I knew in my heart that God wants us in relationship with others and helping others, and I simply did not have a desire to do it.
Over the last six years, we have been in a healing ministry and praying for the sick. When I first started that ministry it was like I was firing a prayer rifle at the illness rather than seeing the person who was suffering. This compassion thing was still not my best virtue, but I was building a desire to pray for sick people any time any where, so I was growing the seed of compassion I had asked for in prayer. There were a few times that someone’s situation really hit my heart, and I thanked God that He was answering my prayer to get my heart into the game. It seemed like the more thankful I was, the more humble I became because I appreciated how little I could do without God. I remember when my son had his tonsils out a year or so ago, and the pain often intensified on day six or seven. He was in so much pain that he would waive his hands in anger at us for doing the surgery and he would say the medicine was not helping at all. Sometimes I would sit in the hallway outside his room and cry, as I read scripture and prayed God would reduce the pain and bring healing. I also would thank God that He was still softening my heart so that I could demonstrate real compassion for others. I had asked Him for all this love and compassion and now I had to deal with it!
One day at church I was praying for a man who had a stroke. His hand was shriveled, his arm was bent, his mouth was slanted, and he tended to drool. Out of compassion I grabbed his shriveled hand and prayed for him to be healed. Soon I could feel the drool dripping on my hand and he was crying from a touch by the Lord. I began to weep too, because I suddenly could see the work God had done in me over the years to be in this situation and not wanting to be anywhere else in that moment. God had taken an uptight lawyer who did not have a lot of time or desire for helping others, and turned him into a loving man who would tend to the sick and not worry about the mess. In that moment I realized I had been healed and humbled, and I praised and thanked the Lord for the work He had done in me.
Jesus came to show us what the Father was like so that we would want to reunite with Him and spend our eternity with Him. Jesus was full of love and compassion and thankfulness. The Holy Spirit can help us love people like Jesus did, and it was the command of Jesus to do so! You just have to ask God to help you become more like Jesus… Imagine how much more peaceful your life would be if you truly loved others and felt compassion for them, and you would not be tempted to be critical, negative and always have to be “right” in every discussion. When you are thankful and compassionate, you try to always find a way that everyone can win. I pray in this Holiday season that you can be thankful for what Jesus did for you, and that you would pray and ask Him to help you love others and to be thankful in all things.