We all know people who spend so much time trying to stare into the future they end up missing the present…Maybe you are one of those people. I definitely catch myself fixating on future plans at times…but the problem with that is we start existing, instead of living… Because we’re not “there” yet (the future), and if we’re not living in the present we’re not really “here” either. So what keeps us locked into the present in a way where we can really live, grow, and thrive?
The key that makes all the difference is thankfulness.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “Thankfulness has nothing to do with any of that, Fusco!” Well, I’m so glad you said something because I love a good challenge. But I promise you, this time, my logic isn’t that much of a stretch.
Thankfulness keeps us living in the now. Why? Because to be thankful, you have to open your eyes, notice the world around you, and acknowledge it. Thankfulness keeps us tethered to our present reality.
And it doesn’t stop there…Thankfulness has two life-transforming implications for our present reality – besides just keeping us living in the here and now.
First, thankfulness allows us to experience contentment in the present, without getting obsessed with the future.
When we thank God for his blessing and his redemptive work in our lives, we cultivate a posture of surrender in our own hearts. Thankfulness helps us surrender to exactly what God is doing at the moment, which is just another way of saying thankfulness leads us into contentment. Really, thankfulness and contentment go hand-in-hand because contentment evidences a simple, childlike faith in who God is and what God is doing…When we thank God for what he’s doing in our lives, we train ourselves to trust God and God’s plans for our lives, and then we become content with the details.
But the Apostle Paul wrote about being content this way: “For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Whether in plenty or in want, Paul had learned how to be content. Why? Because he knew that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him! This is why Paul lived surrendered. Because he knew and trusted Jesus. He knew that the Lord was in control and had strengthened him by the Spirit.
And this totally transforms how we live in the present! No longer do we need to daydream about the future…because we’ve learned to thank God and satisfy ourselves with the work He’s doing right now.
And that brings us to the second life-transforming quality of thankfulness: Not only does thankfulness help us be content right now, thankfulness helps us trust God with what’s to come.
Why? Because thankfulness is a discipline that allows us to take stock of how faithful God is being to us in our present reality. And when we live in light of God’s faithfulness, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can trust him with our futures too.
So ask yourself, are you cultivating a heart posture of thankfulness each and every day? If not, start right now in your present reality…I promise you, you’re going to find yourself satisfied in ways you never dreamed of…so you don’t have to spend your days dreaming about what’s to come anymore.