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When It’s a Challenge to Say I Am Thankful for You

Have you ever reflected on people who meant a great deal to you a long time ago? Sometimes these people fade from our memories as time passes. We may have lost track of them and forgot how much they impacted our lives. It would be great to reconnect with them and say I am thankful for you once again.

One such person in my life was a youth pastor. Not only did he become a mentor through my middle and high school years, but became someone I considered a friend (as much as a teen can have an adult i am thankful for youfriend). I don’t know where I would have ended if not for his guidance and counsel.

I did move away and distance kept us from interacting much into my adult life. But we did reconnect a few years ago and had a wonderful conversation about our past and current lives. So before I left our time together, I said to him how I am thankful for you being in my life.

That reconnection reminded me that I don’t say I am thankful for you often enough to those I see everyday. There are so many people who support me, encourage me and flat out love me no matter what. Life would be a challenge and quite frankly no fun without them. Family, friends, work associates – they lift my spirit on a daily basis. I am thankful for them being in my life.

But there is more to this thankfulness business than we think. Are we only to be thankful for those people who are close to us or that we would consider good?

I Am Thankful For You Too

If you really think about it, there are a whole host of people who have impacted your life, yet have no clue they have done so. These people fall into two camps: 1) people you know but don’t have a close friendship with and 2) those you admire from a distance (for something they have done). These two classes of people are in our lives for a reason – we draw something from them that is inspiring.

Who are these people? Think writers, speakers, or businessmen and women. They are retirees who show joy every day. They are leaders who make tough decisions and stand for what is right. Athletes, trainers and coaches win whom we see greatness and inspire us to do things we didn’t think possible. In reality, this list could go on and on.

Even to them we can say I am thankful for you being in my life, even if it’s from afar and you may not know who I am.

We can feel pretty good about all these type of people. It’s easy to be thankful for them. But let’s take our thinking a little deeper. What about those people I’d rather not have in my life right now? What about the ones I wish I could jettison?

Not an Easy Task

These would be those who I don’t agree with. They are people who hate what I stand for. Individuals who would be glad to see me fail in some way or maybe are even doing me harm, intentionally or unintentionally. They are a thorn in my side. Do I need to be thankful for them too?

Honestly, I don’t really want to be. It’s a tough sell to be thankful for someone who is doing you harm or dragging you down.

I don’t want to go there. I want to hold these people’s actions against them and not bless them with an ounce of thankfulness. But I have to remind myself of this from the pages of the Bible:

“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are his people and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

Lessons from the Pasture

When you think of pastureland, what do you see?

Pastures are full of grass for food. Water and shade trees can be found nearby for shade and comfort from the heat of the day. In the pasture, we see other like-minded animals like sheep, enjoying their companionship. There is room to move around, stretch out and be given space. There is even a shepherd standing watch over the pasture, looking out for the sheep there. All those are things to be thankful for.

But if it’s such a perfect place, why do we need the shepherd? What role requires his presence there?

It’s because that even though the pasture is beautiful and full of goodness, it may not be entirely full of goodness. It’s not a perfect environment like we assume. There are still dangers, seen and unseen, to account for or anticipate. Undoubtedly, where there are sheep, there will be wolves looking for a meal. There may be thieves looking to break in, kill and destroy. There are people ready to cross the boundaries of the pasture to disrupt the lives of those there, even if it is in smaller, less obvious ways.

So, how can the animals be thankful for someone looking to do them harm? Because of one thing – the Shepherd.

Thankful for All Things

The shepherd knows the wolves are there. He knows there are people causing some tense moments for the sheep. He knows the sheep don’t understand why they have to exist in the same space as the wolves. But the shepherd also knows this – he won’t let one sheep be devoured.

He also knows there may be some interesting lessons for the sheep to learn as they wait for the shepherd to do his thing. Like how to trust the shepherd or how to listen or whose voice to follow. And in a shocking development not to be dismissed, the sheep may even need to understand the perspective and needs of the wolves.

Hopefully, you’ve seen the parallel here from the real world to the spiritual. In the end, God – our Shepherd – is good. His mercy is everlasting. His knowledge and truth endure forever.

God knows why certain people are in our life. We may not understand the purpose. Some people we may not feel remotely thankful for. But I have to believe there are lessons to learn from every person He’s placed in my pasture.

That’s why I can say I am thankful for you – to everyone around me. Thanks for being a part of my life.

Related Content: 15 Bible Verses to Remind Us to Be Thankful

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: When was the last time you told someone, I am thankful for you? What do you have to be thankful for right now? Are there people causing havoc in your life and what might you be learning through that?  

Image courtesy of Jeff Turner at Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. I always say “thank you” to all people who do good things to me, and doing this is one way of showing how grateful I am to them being part of my life.

  2. It is not a challenge to say these words of gratitude to someone. Two reasons for not saying it: it’s either we forgot to express it or it is our pride which always rule.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of the special occasions we have to show how thankful we are to people and all the blessings we receive.

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