Shift Your Focus
Dr. Jody Ray

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NIV)

In Living Life on Purpose, Greg Anderson tells a story about a man whose wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God — he found no joy in living. One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon.

In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, “Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?” The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, “Sure, honey, we can pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?” She then turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, “Bow your heads.” Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen.”

All the people in the restaurant raised their heads and went back to their meals – but there was something very different about that little restaurant. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, “We should do that every morning.”

“All of a sudden,” said our friend, “my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl’s example, I started to thank God for all I did have and stopped focusing on all I didn’t have. I started to be grateful.”

What was different about that little restaurant? That little girl’s prayer changed the atmosphere!

Do you know that’s what giving thanks does? It changes our focus. It redirects our thoughts. It shifts our attitudes. “Giving thanks” can change the atmosphere in your life!

I know every one of us can make a long list of all the problems in our lives and the world around us. We all have situations and circumstances that are causing us sadness and stress. For example, there’s sickness, death, divorce, depression, hatred, problems in the economy, and even problems in the church.

But today, right now, you have a choice to make. You can choose to focus your attention on all the bad, or you can redirect your focus toward what you have to be thankful for today.

Let’s remember the words of the Apostle Paul: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We don’t give thanks FOR everything, but IN everything. When we give thanks “in” everything we are recognizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives and that God’s sovereign hand is in charge and at work in our lives.

What are you thankful for? Why don’t you take a moment and make a list? I bet your “thankful list” is far greater than your “problem list.”

The Ray family wishes a very Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!