The Lens of Thanksgiving—Do I See Challenges or Opportunities?

The Lens of Thanksgiving—Do I See Challenges or Opportunities?



I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. Psalm 9:1

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5: 16-18


Good morning Prayer Team!

Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

Today is the second of three reflections on positive thinking.  Yesterday, we discussed being thankful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have.  And about how we should see the glass as half-filled rather than half-empty, because that is the way that God sees it.

In today’s reflection, I want to focus on the words “challenge” and “opportunity”.  Like the glass that one sees as half-filled or half-empty, each day we encounter situations in life that we can choose to see through a positive lens—opportunity—or a negative one—challenge/problem.  I recently heard someone say that in every opportunity, there is going to be a challenge; and in every challenge, there is always an opportunity, so these two ideas are not so opposite that they can’t be seen in unity.

Spend some time today evaluating aspects of your life—1) your faith; 2) your marriage; 3) your children; 4) your job; 5) your friendships; 6) your hobbies; 7) your overall life.  For each one, write down your challenges/problems, and then for each one write down your opportunities.  Then for each challenge you’ve written down, write down the opportunity for a positive outcome, i.e. what needs to happen, or what can happen to turn a challenge into a positive opportunity.  For the areas of life where you are already doing well, this is a chance to set goals to continue in a positive way or set goals for how to do even better in the positive direction you are going.  For areas of life where you feel challenged, this is a chance to set some goals to turn the challenges into opportunities for improvement and positive outcome.

In St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, he challenges us to do three things that seem to be impossible—after all, how can someone rejoice ALWAYS, pray CONSTANTLY and give thanks in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.  If this is His will for us, as St. Paul says, are we being set up for failure?  The answer is NO.  God sets us up for success, not failure.

Looking at things through a lens of thanksgiving makes it possible to rejoice always.  Prayer is not only saying the words of prayer but doing the work of prayer.  A thankful heart that embraces challenge as opportunity, specifically as an opportunity to give glory to God, is a heart that is constantly in a prayerful state.  As for giving thanks in all circumstances, the grateful heart sees the possibilities and opportunities in each circumstance and gives thanks for possibilities and opportunities, even amidst challenges.

So, yes, it is not only the will of God for us to rejoice, pray and give thanks on a continual basis, it is actually possible to do so if one looks at life through the lens of thanksgiving.

Lord, thank You for my life, even for its challenges.  Please help me to look at my life through a lens of thanksgiving.  Help me to understand what that even means.  Guide me to make an honest evaluation of my challenges and opportunities.  Help me to set goals I can achieve and to see the opportunities for growth and Your glory even in my challenges.  Amen.

Evaluate the challenges and opportunities in your life today.  Evaluate the opportunities that exist, even in your challenges.


+Fr. Stavros

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About author

Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “ and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”