Thanksgiving is only three days away, but people have already started sharing their gratitude for the many blessings of life – at church, on Facebook, and just about everywhere. I love this season of thanks giving! I’ve been inspired anew this year to express gratitude for things I didn’t want, didn’t ask for, and didn’t see as a blessing in the beginning. I’m treasure hunting. It began with the movie “Pollyanna.”

The 2003 Masterpiece Theater version of this timeless story is very well done. Pollyanna is an orphan. Her mother died when she was a baby and her pastor/missionary father has recently passed away as well. She arrives at her Aunt Polly’s house unaware of the unhealed wound between her mother and aunt, and immediately begins teaching everyone she meets about The Glad Game. This is where it gets fun.
Her father introduced her to the game when the missionary barrel arrived. Instead of the doll she had asked for, Pollyanna got crutches. She was heartbroken, but her father encouraged her to be glad instead. “Be glad that you don’t needthe crutches. We can always look for something to be glad about.” And so it began – in every situation that disappointed or ached, they began to look for the good, and be thankful.

Pollyanna spreads her cheer, and the game transforms the town. It sends the doom and gloom pastor in search of the “glad texts.” Finally, it comes back to Pollyanna in her time of greatest need – when she is paralyzed from the waist down. It takes the love of the townspeople to give Pollyanna courage in her sense of despair, and melt her aunt’s frozen heart, giving them both the love they have sorely needed.

Most of us have much to be thankful for – food, clothing, family, love, home, work, health, freedom – and so much more. It’s easy to be thankful when this is the case. But there are also times in each of our lives when we feel like we’ve gotten crutches when we asked for a doll. We can’t see the “gift” in it.

I have experienced rejection and loneliness, physical pain, children in crisis, failure, and other things that have made giving sincere thanks seem impossible. Yet, Paul told the early church members to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). I’m sure they experienced all the same difficulties and heartaches we do today, only without cell phones and Facebook. So how could Paul expect them to give thanks in all circumstances?

First of all, I believe Paul encouraged them to focus on the Person of Jesus Christ. He never fails to bring us joy. It doesn’t matter what our circumstances are at the moment; He never changes. His salvation and new life cannot be revoked. So, no matter what our current problems, we can always be glad in Jesus.
Secondly, I believe they stood back to get a new perspective. When we remember how God has cared for His people throughout history, we can see our present troubles in a new light. In the full scheme of things, they truly are light and momentary.
Finally, I think they looked ahead at our promised hope of heaven. If our sins are forgiven and we rest in the knowledge that our life matters to God, we can rejoice in hope. Hope that God can at any moment – change our circumstances, or change us in our circumstances. We can glorify God in the present when we keep heaven in view.
Now, I’m looking up The Glad Texts…and there’s a bunch! Tomorrow and the next day, I will post the fifteen I found in the book of Psalms alone. I encourage you to search the rest of the Bible to find more favorites. It will lift your spirits tremendously.
Tune in tomorrow for part one of The Glad Texts.