When I was in junior high, and parents trusted television a little more than they should, I saw a music video on MTV that featured a beautiful lady with a tattoo of a snake that was the entire length of her arm. Though over the years, my mind somehow decided it was on her leg, and that was what I wanted. That was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and I was determined that when I was old enough, I would make that happen.
Turns out putting age restrictions on things like that are a good idea.
But at the time, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t thankful for these restrictions, not the ones from my parents nor the ones from the government.
As a kid, I didn’t know that was a good thing. It seemed kind of crummy to me. Where’s my freedom? Why can’t I make my own choices?
When I don’t get my way, it’s easy for me, even now, to focus in on that, and forget all the other good things that I have in my life.
No, I didn’t get the 3-foot long snake tattoo (thank you mom and dad), but I did get rules that kept me from getting hepatitis and I had a good education, food, shelter, clothing and teen magazines.
And sometimes when I ask God for something, it goes that way. I asked Him for healing for my Mom, which didn’t happen this side of heaven. But I asked for healing for my niece, and it happened that very moment, so I know He is capable (if I haven’t shared that story, find me – I’d love to tell you). I have asked for jobs and babies and relationships, and not all of it went the way I wanted. Some of these things I still pray for, knowing these deep desires are in the hearts of my friends. And some things that I’ve prayed for, I can see now how it wouldn’t have been the best option.
But we are supposed to be thankful in all of it. I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
In the book “Anything,” by Jennie Allen, she quoted her friend Rachel, who had many reasons to become bitter in her life. Instead of bitterness, Rachel was filled with joy and love for others, even those who had hurt her, and she said this:
“You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don’t know the difference.” (p59)
There are ways that God can use those seemingly bad things to bring about good that our minds can’t even understand.
Sometimes I still might resemble that 12 year-old girl who wants a snake tattoo, not realizing that what I am asking for isn’t for the best, even though it sure seems to me like it is. But I have a Father who looks at me with love, knowing what is best, and holds me through the “No.”
If there is some “No” you have received that has your full attention right now, and you’re not feeling very Thanksgiving-y, take a few minutes to make a list and let God know how thankful you are for the things he has given you, and how much you trust Him as your Father to know what’s best, even during a “No.”
There is a serious freedom that comes with not having to figure it all out, but simply trusting God, and I, for one, am thankful for that.