I hope you are all practicing using Thankful Words towards your spouse as we approach Thanksgiving Day! But no doubt some of you feel as though you have nothing to be thankful about regarding your spouse. I understand this…truly, I do. I receive countless emails from husbands and wives whose spouse is committing adultery, taking drugs, drowning in alcohol, taking no interest in the family, etc. If it weren’t for the promises in God’s Word and the hope I find there, I too would get discouraged by all of these negative reports.
But the scriptures are filled with references to giving thanks “whatever happens” and in spite of our circumstances! In fact, giving thanks and praise is referred to as a SACRIFICE (Psalm 50:23, Hebrews 13:15). Have you ever thought about what that really means?
Well, for one thing, it means we must look for the positive in the midst of the negative. And when we can’t find anything positive, we can at least express thanks for the trials God is allowing in marriage because they can deepen your faith in Him. Thankful people find things for which they give God thanks. They are not thankful only for the good; they can be thankful in the midst of the bad as well.
The way you think is all-important when you are being thankful for whatever God sends. What I admire in my wife Sarah is that she is thankful for me and the rest of the family because she can look beyond us and thank God. In fact, one of Sarah’s favorite verses is Psalm 50:23 – “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me.” She writes in her journal:
I remember when our son David had broken his leg quite severely, while playing baseball in the eighth grade. As I saw his heart breaking over the loss of a dream to play in the major league someday, I realized I could not fix his leg or his dream. Now my heart was breaking also. How would I get through this? Then God showed me this wasn’t a crisis with my son, but a crisis of faith for me. I knew it was God’s will that I give thanks in all things, but this didn’t feel like something for which to be thankful. And that is when I learned about a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” in Psalm 50:23.
When I came upon this verse while David was recuperating, at first it didn’t sound like a natural thing to do. But then I thought of Abraham, who was asked to sacrifice his only son on the altar. That wasn’t a very natural thing to do either. I realized that sometimes we have to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving even when things are not going well.
That was the first of many more times in my life when I would offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It was like a pre-game warm-up with many practices in between. Little did I know I was practicing for the big game yet to come – the day I would hear the words “breast cancer.” Throughout the ten years between my son’s disappointment and then cancer for me, I had been finding joy in giving thanks. Each time I offered thanksgiving as a sacrifice, I knew I was honoring God. Even though my circumstances did not always change, something was happening in the heavens and something was happening in my soul!
Sarah went on to have a double mastectomy and today is cancer free. Whatever your relationship to your spouse may be right now, I urge you to use Sarah’s approach to your circumstances. To avoid or climb out of the pit of unthankfulness, make a commitment like the following:
With God’s help I will counter negative thoughts about my spouse by giving thanks for all his or her good qualities. I know Jesus does not let my weaknesses or faults control His view of me. I will treat my spouse as Jesus treats me.
Excerpts taken from The Language of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.