Maybe you read my previous blog where I shared a personal testimony about the importance of praising the Lord. Circumstances can be hard and we don’t always feel like praising the Lord, but when we choose to praise Him anyway, it will lift us up. That’s the same with giving thanks.
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4:6-7
The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while he was in prison… not exactly a place to be thankful for and yet Paul encourages the believers in Philippi ‘to not be anxious, to pray in every situation … another translation says ‘to make specific requests to the Lord’ … while being thankful at the same time.
Give thanks, always?!
Giving thanks… that was quite a challenge for our daughter as well. Even more so when you have Down Syndrome and you like it so much being in Africa, helping children and all of a sudden you need to go back home with mom and dad. That was what happened to our 33 year old Downie with a mental age of a 3 year old. Also there was no easy way in which we could explain to her all the things that had happened. Soon upon our arrival in the Netherlands she became depressed and it broke our heart hearing her talk to Jesus that she did not want to be here, that she wanted to go back and help the children in Africa… that was her job and she loved it. Moreover, she did not want ‘her ugly face’ anymore. Although aware of the fact that she was different than others, she never worried about having Down Syndrome, but all of a sudden she hated it… it was all gloom and doom in her head.
Think of something that makes you happy
What could we do but pray for her that Jesus would intervene?! How could we find ways to ease her pain and make her happy again? Then one day a friend suggested to make a ‘happy meter.’ To glue some A4 papers together – a long centimeter – and buy a huge variety of smiley stickers. We explained the plan to our daughter: every day she had to think of something she was happy about or thankful for; then I would write that down on the meter and she could pick a smiley sticker and put it next to what I had written. She thought this was a nice idea and immediately she said: ‘I am happy to have my dad.’ She chose a big yellow smiley with sunglasses, and I could not help but ask: ‘Aren’t you happy with me?’ She looked at me and said: ‘Yes, but not now; tomorrow it’s your turn!’ Okay… clever girl. And every day, for weeks in a row she was busy thinking of something she was thankful for.
‘Be happy; I am always with you!’
One day she added another sticker on the happy meter and said: ‘this sticker is for Jesus. Yesterday He said to me: ‘Janne, be happy; I am always with you!’ Wow! That’s sure worth a sticker! And slowly but surely, we saw her smile again and the twinkling in her eyes came back. So when the meter was full of stickers I asked her: ‘Do you want to continue the happy meter or not?’ She looked at me and said: ‘Just one more mom… for myself, because I am a beautiful lady.’ And she sure is!
Make your own happy meter
Are you in a season with gloom and doom in your head? Are you only thinking about things that did not work out like you wanted? Is your glass always half empty? Why not try a happy meter yourself! Do you think that’s a silly suggestion? Well maybe, but just give it a try. Skip the smileys if you think that is too childish (to be honest… I think it’s a wonderful extra). Write down the things you are thankful for… I have seen that one happy thing will lead to another and it will completely change the way you look at things. By the way, don’t forget to follow Janne’s example: ‘Put one sticker on your happy meter for Jesus! He also says to you: ‘[ … fill in your name…] be happy; I am always with you!’
Read also: I want more!?