“I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11).
May I make a radical proposal this Thanksgiving season?
Instead of counting your blessings one by one, I recommend that you:
1. Make a list of everything you’re not thankful for. Include anything you’re tired of, frustrated about, or worried over.
2. Review every area of your life—family, school, work, church, neighborhood, friends, finances, schedule, hobbies, activities, interests. Make sure you don’t forget anything you’re not thankful for.
3. Include as many specifics as possible. Don’t simply list “current job.” Specify exactly what’s bothering you about your place of work (or whatever).
4. Review your list with your spouse or a close friend. Again, try to think of everything you’re not thankful for.
5. Once your list is complete, congratulations! That was quite a bit of work, wasn’t it? But don’t stop yet.
6. In the tradition of the psalms and other great prayers of the Bible, take your list to God. Pour out your complaints to Him.
Don’t forget, however, that prayer isn’t meant to be a monologue.
7. Listen to what God says to you: “Yes, I know what you’re going through (Heb. 4:15). But, listen, rejoice! In your trials? Yes! (Romans 5:3, James 1:2). When your health is greatly diminished? Yes! Even if (worst case scenario) others turn against you? Yes! (Matt. 5:10-12, 1 Peter 4:12-14).”
8. Listen to what else God says to you: “My son, My daughter, My child, I know how you feel. But, listen, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything, for this is My will for you (1 Thess. 5:16-18).”
9. “Yes, rejoice always! Again, I say, rejoice! Let your mind dwell on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:4, 8)—not on what you’re not thankful for.”
10. “Yes, make a list of what you’re not thankful for. But don’t let that list become your focus. Instead, look to Me. Dwell in My Word. Spend time in My presence. Remember, My joy is your strength (Neh. 8:10)—today and always.”
“Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).