By: Martin Cisneros
Thanksgiving seems to be like a muscle. If it hasn't been getting enough exercise, then the tears seem to flow along with thanksgiving. I already considered myself depression free for years and totally delivered from grief, but I'd experience moments of grief during my thanksgiving to my heavenly Father and my Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit started drawing my attention to that sometime back 'cause He wanted me to press past the grief (He called it "grief") and to thank my heavenly Father in the Name of Jesus until I had a breakthrough where genuine joy would start flowing instead of tears with my thanksgiving. It took me a few days of doing that for more than an hour a day to break an area of grief that was in my life that I wasn't aware of it being in my life. We're supposed to rejoice in our weaknesses. Not because of them, but in them because we're redeemed regardless of what we see or feel. Any area of grief clouds one's ability to hear Him Speak. So, it should be one of the top priorities of all Christians to give thanks as an offering and as an exercise in faith expecting His glory to manifest.
I learned the hard way that grief is deadly. Any area where grief is working against your soul, you've got a curse working on you that's trying to block all of His blessings. I nearly died three different times in 2008 before our heavenly Father got through to me to thank Him until I smashed through that wall of grief that was exalting itself between us and bringing harm to areas of my body that I couldn't find the root to. So, I was thanking Him and thanking Him and thanking Him for each area of my redemption and for all He's provided for me, and all that He's shown me to be the perfect will of God for my life. I thanked and thanked and cried and thanked and cried and thanked and cried and thanked until the joy started getting to where it was about the same level in me as the grief. And then I just kept on and on and on thanking Him, even when things looked like they were getting worse, and I thanked Him and thanked Him for everything that I saw in Isaiah 53 and in countless other passages of Scripture and the tears and the laughter were at about the same level while I was thanking Him again and again and again in an act of spiritual warfare. And then finally the tares in my heart were overwhelmed and choked by the real crop of faith, hope, and love.
Our faith and our joy is something that we have stewardship over, and they must be nurtured and protected with the same diligence that we'd watch our diets, our amount of exercise, and the amount of sleep that we get.
Every care has to be cast upon Him, according to 1Peter 5:6-7. You've just got to get nasty about the fact that you refuse to be burdened by a single care in your life. What you honestly can do something about, you do it as it's attention genuinely comes due. But with all of it, you refuse to worry, to feel needy, to be fearful or anxious about a single thing. That was one of the main things that I had to battle with my thanksgiving as I was renewing my mind. My thanksgiving was as much "self talk" as it was an offering to our Lord. Because a burdened mind and body with the cares of this life isn't the prisoner of just one thought. It's a whole paradigm; a system of thinking [or emotions!] that you've got to rebel against if you've got any faith in the Word that says to cast the whole of your cares upon Him so that He can exalt you in due time because He cares for you.
I had to say it, even though I'd already said it dozens of times over the years, but I had to get militant about it 'cause I finally realized that it wasn't going to happen just because I said it -- but saying it was involved in changing the wheel of my nature (James chapter 3; Mark 11:22-26) and turning this thing around so that I could save my soul, my body, and my life. I had to say "Father, in the Name of Jesus, once and for all I'm casting these cares upon You and I refuse to touch it again in my thought life." And from there I just had to keep saying "Thank You, Father, that you're the One carrying all of my cares and I don't have a care. I don't care about anything. I love my God and I love my neighbor as much as Jesus Christ does, but I'm not going to try to be God over a single one of these situations with playing out scenarios in my mind and trying to figure out on my own 'how to' fix any of this."
And I'd have to keep saying that all of my cares have been cast upon the Lord, according to 1Peter 5:6-7. Often, while I was renewing my mind to that I'd have to intercept many thoughts and feelings that would come from my old way of feeling about my life, my responsibilities, and about others and I'd have to cast down those imaginations and bring every thought into obedience to Christ, according to 2Corinthians 10:3-6, by saying it again and again, in obedience to 1Peter 5:6-7:
"I thank You, Father, that You care for me because I've cast my cares upon You and You are exalting me in due time over all of this. I thank You, Father, in the Name of Jesus You are opening new doors of opportunity and prosperity for my life, and I don't have to take thought for tomorrow. I thank You, Father, that sufficient for today is today's thanksgiving and I'm delivered of all of these cares because I've cast absolutely all of them over on You!"
I just kept thanking and thanking and thanking God with an aggression that I've never had before about it, and right when the grief was cast out, because Isaiah 53 says that Jesus bore mine, right when the joy was pure and without any mixture of sour water and sweet water, but was fullness of joy birthed of aggressive ongoing thanksgiving for Christ's finished work in my life and my redemption from all of these afflictions, then my miracles began with my body and with a lot of other things that I was having to rebel against with the redemptive work of Christ.
While there's grief still associated with a few minutes of thanksgiving, or with an hour or so of it, then that just means that you need to get aggressive with it and keep thanking and praising God until you've washed out your spiritual system, or strengthened it. This seems technical or mechanical, but after having obeyed St. Paul on purpose about rejoicing always, giving thanks without ceasing, becoming built and rooted deeply in the faith by abounding in the faith with nonstop thanksgiving, etc., etc., etc. then from personal experience I know that he was teaching to commit acts of spiritual warfare with your thanksgiving until you've smashed through every hindrance to your joy and every limitation in your imagination and in your relationship with God through making thanksgiving a process that you're willing to walk out as on a treadmill until you've reached the level of spiritual fitness that you've always wanted. There's no such thing as becoming and being strong in spirit without thanksgiving, just as there's no such thing as becoming and being strong in body without repeatedly doing something with that body -- even when it's about as pleasant [to the physical senses] as really bad tasting medicine. Thanksgiving eventually becomes the sweeeetest drug to the soul.