Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Barriers to Giving Thanks

Throughout this month, on the Grow Barefoot Facebook page, I've been posting and commenting on verses from the book of Psalms that mention thanksgiving. To mention just a few…
  • Honor Him with thanksgiving
  • Thank Him repeatedly
  • Thank Him for His goodness, His justice, His nearness
  • Sing our thanks
These are the ideals.

Reality is that sometimes being thankful is hard, painful, and even impossible. Jerry Tharp, my church pastor, shared some barriers to giving thanks in his sermon this past Sunday. As we proceed through this week of Thanksgiving, I want to pass them along to you with some of my own commentary added to his.

Attitude of entitlement

Pride tells us we deserve what we have. After all, we’ve worked hard and earned it. But James tells us, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

To Battle this Barrier: Honest self-examination of who we are outside of God’s grace and the benefits we have received because of Him.

Unable to see God’s blessings

Judas walked with Jesus just like the other disciples. He saw the same miracles, heard the same words, and ate the same meals. Yet when the opportunity came, he betrayed Jesus while the other disciples served Him unto death. 

Some people marvel at the wonders of God; others couldn’t care less.

To Battle this Barrier: Genuinely ask God to give you eyes to see Him and the work He does through you and in you.

Heaviness of heart

This one is common in our culture. Death. Disease. Rejection. Disaster. A heavy heart easily overwhelms us in this sin-laden society. “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears” (Psalm 6:6). Yet later in that same Psalm, “The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace” (Psalm 6:9-10). Psalm author David poured out his sorrows to God; by the end of the Psalm, God had comforted him and restored his joy. 

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).

To Battle this Barrier: Do what you know is right through prayer and praise. Your emotions will almost always follow. You can control your actions whereas emotions often control you.

Extreme Busyness

Busyness plagues us all this time of year. I know the demands for my time will increase as we enter December. But I’m reminded of Mary and Martha. Martha focused on all of the preparations she had to do for mealtime while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Jesus response was “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

To Battle this Barrier: Let go of some stuff. Find strength through realizing what is important and what isn’t. Listen to the words of God when He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).


Home, car, job, spouse, clothes, whatever. Comparing what we have to what someone else has is a spiritual dead-end. Envy puts the focus on what you don’t have instead of recognizing the blessing of what you do have. Envy denies the truth that God has granted you with all that you need and many more blessings besides.

To Battle this Barrier: Learn to be content and trust in God’s promised provision. Contentment and trust aren’t natural responses; we must learn them through knowledge and experience.

My hope is to help you break down some of these barriers. I pray you experience the freedom and thankfulness God desires for us, not just this weekend but all year long.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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