Summer has definitely begun in the Nunnery household.
Since our children were about 10 years old, they have gone to summer camp here in the Appalachian mountains. Over time, it has become a symbol and indicator of summer.
Last year like so many others, the camp had to close because of pandemic protocols. And, it seemed strange to not go through the camp routine of buying little toothpaste tubes, disposable toothbrushes, and collecting extra towels and sheets, driving excited young people to camp, and then picking them up exhausted a week later.
In so many ways, 2020 seems like the lost year in our memories…
Anyway, our youngest daughter brought home a book on anxiety that she purchased in the camp book store because she wanted to have it to help her friends. Anxiety is every where and it is interesting how a 14 year old even sees it among her friends.
It was a short book…quick reference.
Last night, I looked through it briefly. It seems like a pretty good resource, and it is broken down with short captions to be read over many days. It mentions great qualities that come with amazing promises in the Bible like peace, joy, contentment, happiness, etc.
I don’t think the book was meant to be comprehensive. As I mentioned before, it is a quick reference—a quick hitter.
As I read through the material quickly , I noticed that nowhere in the book is thanksgiving mentioned. Don’t get me wrong, the material in the book was pretty good and helpful, but I kept coming back to this idea of dig deeper, dig deeper, dig deeper.
This is not unusual because I remember talking in the winter to a father about contentment. The father’s position was that contentment, not happiness was imperative in the Christian life. And, even though what he was saying was not bad, I remembered having the same feeling—dig deeper, dig deeper, dig deeper.
Again, I don’t want to be accused of implying that focus on things like joy, peace, happiness, contentment is wrong. Everything you have been taught about these qualities is right. I mean—joy and peace are fruits of the spirit.
But, what I do want to say is that these qualities are results!
They are not the start….
If you want to solve the epidemic of anxiety, you have to do the extra and tiring work of digging beyond joy, peace, and contentment to the root of them all, which is thanksgiving…
Yes, what I am saying is that anxiety is caused by an absence of thanksgiving…
One of the most impactful aspects of thanksgiving is that it is the dirt—the fertile soil—that a Christian is planted into that results in joy, peace, happiness, contentment, etc. A joyful heart begins in thanksgiving. A contented heart begins in thanksgiving.
An anxious and jealous and fearful person rehearses what they lack, while a thankful person meditates on what they have.
The Apostle Paul is famous for giving one word answers to problems that we write 200 and 300 page books on today. His “God-breathed” answers are so simple.
This little book on anxiety that my daughter brought home, which is a pretty useful little book, is 186-pages.
How does Paul answer the question of anxiety which is a condition that assaults so many today?
Two words…prayer and thanksgiving.
Pretty simple isn’t it. Well, it is simple, but it isn’t.
Thanksgiving is hard! There is nothing natural about thanksgiving So, while it might be simple, it takes work to develop a “reflex” of thanksgiving.
I think you have heard me talk about this before, but what you haven’t heard me say is that great qualities like joy, peace, contentment, happiness, etc., are all rooted and determined by our capacity for thanksgiving.
Literally, happiness and joy and peace need thanksgiving.
In order to have peace, you have to take a moment and dwell on thanksgiving. Whether you realize it or not, that thankful moment came first.
When you have calm or silence or you have joy, just before there was a moment of thanksgiving. You might have missed it! Or, maybe you downplayed the thanksgiving because you were so focused on the result, but I promise, it was there.
And, if you want that result of joy and peace to return, you need thanksgiving.
And, here is the beauty of thanksgiving, it is a choice. You can consciously choose to be thankful.
It is possible to will yourself to be thankful!
And, the greater thanksgiving you have, the less hold anxiety will have on you. That is a simple truth, but the process is hard. It is hard to grow a demeanor of thanksgiving. Everything you do and see works against it. It takes effort!!