“AS a matter of fact, God isn’t asking you to be thankful. He’s asking you to give thanks. There’s a big difference. One response involves emotions, the other your choices, your decisions about a situation, your intent, your ‘step of faith.”
― Joni Eareckson Tada, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty
Joni is one of the world’s longest surviving quadriplegics. She has been in her wheelchair since 1967, when she had a diving accident as a teenager. Despite this, or maybe because of this, God has used this event in her life to bless millions of people. Her paintings, her books, and her ministry to provide wheelchairs around the world to disabled people are just a few of the ways God has used her to bless the lives of others.
I have read her devotional, Diamonds in the Dust, over and over since the 1990s. It has been a rich source of encouragement and faith building challenge.
Shortly after Will was diagnosed with autism, I wrote a letter to her regarding one of my favorite passages from the Bible, I Thessalonians 5:16-18*, which she read on the air during one of her radio broadcasts in the early 1990s.
Giving thanks is an act of faith.
Don’t beat yourself up because you don’t feel thankful.
20 “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” I John 3:20.
He knows our struggles, he knows that we are dust. Jesus says, “28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30.
*(16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.)