Necessity of Boundaries: 5 Ways to Develop Boundaries

Necessity of Boundaries: 5 Ways to Develop Boundaries


No one has perfect boundaries. At times we all take on what’s not ours, or don’t take on what is ours. God has provided help in repairing and developing our broken boundary-setting abilities. Just as we need to exercise and work with an atrophied leg after it comes out of its cast, setting appropriate boundaries is an ability we must learn. Here are some ways to develop boundaries:

1. Ask God to help you become a truth-teller, even of hard truths. Proverbs 10:18 tells us ‘He who conceals hatred has lying lips.’ Often, people with shaky boundaries may feel resentful about the supposed power of others over them, not realizing they have surrendered that power to them. When people with shaky boundaries begin to feel like they don’t have choices, they will also feel angry and resentful. Often the first step to reclaiming their ‘brand’ is to admit the anger to themselves, God, and others.

2. Find people who celebrate your separateness. ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another’ (Proverbs 27:17). Separateness helps relationships. It isn’t possible to learn to develop boundaries in isolation with unsupportive people. When we try, we repeat our original boundary injury. That is, we find ourselves in a controlling relationship with an unsupportive person and attempt to set a limit on the relationship. The person rejects it, and we find ourselves alone. Most of us would choose being in a bad relationship rather than no relationship. We need to find maturing, caring people who will respect our boundaries just as much as they love our attachment.

3. Practice disagreement. Truth telling always involves differing opinions. You can’t find out who you really are without first knowing who you aren’t. A sign that you’re beginning to set boundaries is that you will rock some boats. There’s most likely a problem if no one ever reacts negatively to you.

Jesus said, ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets’ (Luke 6:26). It’s a disconcerting thought that for us to recover spiritually, some people will probably get upset with us! Yet these are usually people who have a difficult time relating to adults with boundaries of their own.

4. Take responsibility for your mistakes. People with boundary problems sometimes see themselves as out of control of their lives. They feel helpless to change their own problems and others’ treatment of them. This can lead to a blaming or rationalizing attitude. ‘If I can’t control my life, then my problems aren’t my fault,’ might go the thinking. Taking stewardship over your life means learning to admit when your problems are the result of your irresponsibility rather than finding excuses. People who ‘own’ their problems tend to mature much faster than those who excuse or transfer blame. The excuser has nothing to fix, and consequently, no opportunity to grow.

5. Learn to respect others’ separateness. One indication of a boundary deficit is an inability to live with the ‘no’ of another.

I once worked with a couple that experienced this problem. Every time the wife disagreed with the husband, he would head toward the door exclaiming. ‘That’s it! ‘the marriage isn’t going to work out.’ Panicked, she would chase after him and apologize for the ‘sin’ of having an opinion. When we learn to accept another’s boundaries, we are saying, in effect, ‘If you don’t give me what I want, God and I will find another way to get my need met.’ It keeps the other person out of a position of indispensability, which is actually a form of idolatry. If our need to be understood, listened to, or loved can’t or won’t be met by the person we’d like, we are to find someone else to help meet that need. That’s why there is a multiplicity of believers in the Body of Christ: when one friend is busy, we are to call on another. This allows us to support the boundary-setting freedom of others in the way we’d like to. If we want others to accept our freedom, we must respect theirs.

Excerpted from “Hiding From Love” by John Townsend


God expects us to honor age:  Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom. Job 32:7

And he specifically instructs us to honor our parents:

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16

So what are some practical ways that you can show honor to the adult figures in your life?

1. Write a letter. Tell your mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, or another elderly person in your life how they have blessed and impacted you.

A letter is sometimes better than a call as the person can look back on your words and be honored again and again.

2. Make a list. One family made a list for their father and mother’s 60th birthdays, including 60 reasons why they loved and appreciated them. Mom’s list included gratitude for making their lunches, taking care of them when they were sick, and for her amazing multitasking qualities. Dad’s list includes thankfulness for his service in the war, for passing on a love for music, and for his financial faithfulness. This is a great project to include kids and grandkids (sometimes the grandkids have some of the best ideas.)

3. Teach your kids about the importance of age. Who gets served first for dinner in your house? In Asian cultures, the elderly are served first. Find little ways to teach your kids about the importance of respecting age.

4. Visit a nursing home with your kids. Far too often, elderly people are considered a burden. Ask the staff at a nearby nursing home if there is anyone in particular who could use some love and encouragement. ‘Adopt’ this person by bringing them cards, treats, by singing for them, or by simply listening to him or her.

5. Address disrespect in your home. A disrespectful tone or disrespectful actions should never be tolerated in your home. Dads especially need to communicate to their kids that mom is always to be addressed with respect and that he too must be addressed respectfully. If you notice a general lack of respect in your home, call the family together and discuss it. An un-teachable child, one who thinks he knows more than his mom or dad, is headed for a world of pain and disappointment. Encourage your kids today to show respect to all of the adults in their lives. (Note, sometimes disrespect in little ones is excused as ‘shyness.’ Make it clear to you children that when you are with them, they are safe, and you expect them to always answer an adult who says hello or asks them a question. Explain to them that you understand their tendency to be shy, but shyness is never a valid excuse for being rude).

For more on this subject please see our New Life Devotionals and Bibles. Also, if you are struggling to honor someone in your life due to some real hurt, we’d love to help. Please join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Horton's Character

From the book Being God’s Man by Standing Firm Under Pressure by Steve Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Todd Wendorff

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king,

‘O, Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up’ (Daniel 3:16-18).

No one likes to stand out if it means being ridiculed. So what do we do? We blend in; we go with the flow; we don’t rock the boat. Majority opinion prevails most of the time, and democracy has trained us to swallow the results of elections when more than 50 percent of the vote carries. Thankfully, no one posts our photo on the six o’ clock news and announces that we voted against the majority. We aren’t branded a dissenter, either and therefore the threat of a political assassination never enters our mind. But Daniel and his three friends faced such perils in Babylon.

That empire was not a democracy; it was a monarchy. Votes were not cast; rather, edicts and decrees flowed from the king’s mouth right into the law books. And why not? The king was considered divine and could rule as he wished. For loyal subjects, life could change on a dime. Noncompliance to the king’s edicts meant being branded a dissenter, which resulted in a one-way ticket to the brick furnaces. No questions asked, no two hundred dollars for passing ‘Go,’ and certainly no appeals. Once a law was written, it was a done deal. Break the law, feel the pain.

Times may change, but God’s men and women face trials of courage in every age. Nero blamed the Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, and the slaughter that followed would have been a media bonanza. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, stood strongly for
Christianity (which didn’t blend well with a master-race theology), and he was hanged from the gallows. In China today, being a committed Christian means being branded a counter-revolutionary. Christians constantly risk persecution or imprisonment, or they might even disappear.

Most believers in the Western world may never face this kind of test of their Christian commitment. But that doesn’t diminish the temptation to blend in, to not ruffle feathers, to go with the flow–living as God’s men and women, but incognito.

We have opportunities in our culture to stand out and stand up for our faith, to go against the grain, and we have thousands of choices in our lifetime to bring praise and glory to our Savior and Redeemer.

The question is: Will we choose to stand out? Or will we just get on board with the crowd and play it safe.

Set these three goals before you and pray God will help
you with them:

  • Reject the demands of men if it means sinning against God
  • Remember that God allows trials in your life to reveal His power
  • Allow God to use your trials to reveal Himself to others.

You made him [man] a little lower than the heavenly
beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 84:11

For more help on this subject, please see: Being God’s Man’by standing firm under pressure.

Continuing in the Father’s Strength

Excerpted from the book More Jesus, Less Religion by Steve Arterburn

After many years of service to Christ, Cliff’s wife developed a quickly spreading cancer. Many people joined Cliff in fervent prayer for his wife, but she failed rapidly and soon died. Through it all, however, Cliff did not break his determined gaze on Christ. Instead of allowing the tragedy to shake his faith, he allowed his deep experience of pain and suffering—and even depression and confusion—to push him even deeper into the arms of the living God.

This grieving servant of God knew only two things to hold on to, and he held on to both with all his might. The first was his unshakable conviction that God was a good God. And while he didn’t understand this particular circumstance or why his wife had to suffer and die, he did know that God was good and that there had to be a reason he would come to understand one day. Second, he knew beyond all doubt that God loved him. In spite of everything. No matter what. Through it all.

Cliff clung to those twin truths, refusing to take his eyes off the Lord even when he was wracked with grief. When you’re in severe pain or distress, life becomes pretty simple. You’re in survival mode, and you have neither the heart nor the strength to spread around your emotional energy. Instrument certified pilots know what this is all about. When visibility drops to nil and storms rage around them, it is second nature for them to focus on the ‘artificial horizon’ gauge on their instrument panel. No matter what their senses might tell them or what weird phenomena they see through the windscreen, they know that gauge will give them their true position and keep them flying level. They may feel as though they are in a steep dive–’or even flying upside down. Yet their eyes must lock onto that gauge, and they must respond accordingly. When it comes to survival, it doesn’t really matter what they feel like; what matters is what their instruments say.

Many travel through this world basing every decision on how they feel and what they experience. They do not study God’s Word or spend time with Jesus; they have no real knowledge of this Guide who begs us follow him, no matter how we feel and regardless of our circumstances. If we stay focused on him, if it becomes second nature to look to him and not to ourselves, we will not get lost in the dark. Jesus will be that instrument that keeps us headed toward the horizon. Our faith in him can keep us from alternating our direction based on momentary discomfort–and it can prevent needless tragedy.

So it was with Cliff. Although his emotions sometimes raged and other times fell dead flat, although his thoughts were at times confused and he felt his equilibrium slipping, he focused on the ‘Jesus gauge.’ He knew that no matter how his circumstances changed, his Lord would neither change nor fail. As the Lord told Israel, ‘I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendents of Jacob, are not destroyed’ (Malachi 3:6).

As a consequence of such focus, Cliff enjoyed a daily supply–an artesian well–of God’s love through those days of sorrow and distress. He was not only comforted himself, but he became a surprising source of comfort to others.

Our faith, when focused on the true God, will not be shaken by adversity or unexpected turbulence. As long as we, like Cliff, hold tight to our faith in God’s goodness and love, we can come through pain and struggle with a deeper and richer relationship with Jesus, rather than a faith strained beyond its limits because we failed to focus on the true God.

For more help please see More Jesus, Less Religion.

Also, please prayerfully consider joining us at our next New Life Weekend.

Do I Have to Forgive?

Excperted from the book Being Christian by Steve Arterburn and John Shore

There are two modes of consciousness possible for believers: Christ
consciousness, and ‘ me consciousness’that is, our everyday, normal,
human, self-focused sort of consciousness.

When we’re filled with Christ consciousness’when we’re fully with God,
fully open to Christ, fully imbued with the Spirit’s power’we cannot help but
forgive anyone for anything. To be filled with Christ consciousness is to be
filled with love, and pure love forgives as easily as scent comes off a rose.
Modeling this cause-and-effect we have, of course, Jesus himself, who
unforgettably proclaimed his forgiveness for his killers even as they
delightedly crowed at his suffering. (‘Father, forgive them, for they do not
know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).) That shows the power of
Christian forgiveness.

And it’s important that we learn to forgive like this, because it’s
important that as often as possible we ask the Lord to fill us with his Holy

But most of us aren’t usually so overflowing with the Spirit that if we
got mugged we’d be swimming in thoughts of how much we love and forgive the
criminal as he busily clubs us about the head. We’re just not geared toward
that level of forgiveness. In fact, most of us can’t instantly forgive someone
who budges into the ’10 Items or Less’ aisle with eleven items in their cart!

We have our spiritual, Christ-filled mode of consciousness, and we have
our material, self-identification mode of consciousness.

The Spirit of God, and the mind of ‘us. 
It’s the ongoing mixing, experiencing, and juxtaposing of the two that
describes and defines the internal life of all Christians.

If with our human mind we attempt to forgive a grievous offense, we’re almost
certain to fail; resentment (however deep it’s buried) is sure to linger. And
even if we try to forgive such an offense by bringing it into the realm of our
Christ consciousness, we will invariably find ourselves still pained by it once
we’ve reassumed that mode of consciousness by which we must, after all, tend to
the practical, everyday business of life.

So the answer to whether being a Christian means you have to forgive
everyone who’s ever done anything unloving to you is: Yes, you must forgive others
their trespasses against you, as God forgives your trespasses against him.  But achieving lasting forgiveness requires
both a redeemed heart and a renewed mind. Both have a definite role to play in
the process that culminates in true forgiveness.

Sometimes to forgive someone, all you have to do is take a moment to
understand them’to walk a mile in their shoes. Other times, knowing that you
really aren’t away of what caused another person to act the way they did means
you’ve got to roll up your mental sleeves, dig into your emotional and
psychological warehouse, and keep working in there until you can put together
and then bring into light a full and true comprehension of what happened. 

For more help see: Being Christian.

Light in a Cruel World

From the book Healing is a Choice by Steve Arterburn

Everything in my world changed while waiting to board a flight to
Colorado Springs for a dinner with a wonderful ministry couple. I was one of
the last to board the plane.  As I stood
on the ramp just about to walk through a curved doorway into the plane, my
phone rang.  I flipped it open, put it
to my ear, said hello, and after a short conversation said good-bye to the life
I had known.  My life changed in an
instant’nothing would ever be the same again. 
I will sum it up by saying it was on that call I discovered my wife and
I were going to be divorced.  Although
this article is not about my divorce and subsequent recovery, I can’t write
about suffering and healing without telling a portion of my journey back from
the depths of despair.

People often say they felt numb at difficult times in their lives.  There was nothing numb about my
experience.  My stomach began to ache;
my face flushed as a thick, dark curtain seemed to close in my mind.  I was dizzy and nauseated as I fell into my
seat.  The plane’s door slammed shut
behind me, and I began to breathe heavily to keep myself calm.  I once had experienced a panic attack and
feared the embarrassment of another attack. 
I did what I could to keep it together. 
Tears began to tumble into my lap as I turned toward the window and
wanted to run, but it was too late.  We
were already taxiing out to the runway. 
I needed to talk to someone but I was shut off from everyone. Anger,
dread, fear, and disgust swept through me as never before.

The ugly reality of divorce began to sink in as I imagined the
catastrophe of the outcome.  I hurt for
our daughter Madeline and how this would cause her unimaginable pain.  I was certain I had written my last book and
that everything else I loved doing was over. 
I have never felt so alone in such close proximity to so many

As I stated earlier, however, this article is about more than just my
divorce.  It’s about your divorce or
your loss or your abuse or your abandonment. 
It’s about the disgust you’ve felt at whatever cruelty had been thrust
upon you.  It’s about the isolation
you’ve felt from abandonment by people who looked nice to the outside world but
who were monsters to you at home.  It’s
also about the abuse or neglect you have given others.  It’s about the shattered dreams and lost
hopes that you’re living with right now. 
This article is about your healing and the choices you have to make to
experience the healing God has for you.

Are you ready to make those choices? 
There is so much light available for your life’so much healing’ and so
many people who would love to see you through this dark or difficult time.  I pray you will join us at our next New Life Weekend‘that you will take a brave step to heal.  Jesus asked the paralytic in John chapter five if he wanted to be
well. Today I ask you to same question. 
If your answer is yes, then I encourage you to call 1-800-NEW-LIFE right now–the phone lines are open 24 hours a day.

I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me
. Philippians 4:13


New Year, New Mercies

Steve Arterburn


God’s Word is
essential to our life. Without it, we will doubt, despair, and forget that God
is good and that He’s for us.  This year
will be marked with joy and difficulty’through these times it is
imperative to carry God’s promises with you. I encourage you to pick one or
more of these to read every day of the week. When a new week begins, pick a new
promise of God. Your heart will soak up this truth and you’ll be encouraged to
persevere through it all.


25 Great Promises
of God by Mike Yorkey


1. Psalm 51:12 – God gives joy.
2. Isaiah 26:3 – God will give you peace.
3. John 15:9-11 – Christ wants your joy to be full.
4. John 15:11 – Christ’s joy will remain in you.
5. Philippians 4:6-9 – You can have peace

When You Need Help
6. Deuteronomy 10:18 – God promises to provide justice, food, and raiment to
the fatherless.
7. Deuteronomy 14:29 – God promises sufficient food for the fatherless.
8. Psalm 10:14 – God promises to help the fatherless.
9. Psalm 40:17 – God knows you and will help you.
10. Psalm 46:1 – God is a very present help in trouble.
11. Psalm 68:5 – God promises to be a father to the fatherless

When You Feel Your Efforts Are in Vain
12. Psalm 30:5 – Your weeping won’t last forever.
13. Proverbs 22:6 – If you train your children in the way they should go, even
if you don’t see signs now, they will not depart from it when they grow up.

When You Can’t Take It Any More
14. Psalm 18:32 – God girds you with strength.
15. Ephesians 3:16-20 – God will strengthen your inner self.
16. Philippians 4:7 – God will keep your heart and mind.

When You Don’t Feel Smart Enough
17. Proverbs 2:6-7 – God stores up wisdom for you.
18. Proverbs 3:5-6 – God will direct your path.

When You Have Your Own Needs
19. Isaiah 54:5 – God tells Israel that He is her husband (a great promise for
single moms).
20. Matthew 21:22 – God will answer your prayers.
21. Philippians 4:19 – God will supply your needs.

When You Have Failed
22. Joshua 1:8-9 – You can be successful if you make the right choices.
23. Psalm 37:4-5 – If you trust Him, He will work things out.
24. Colossians 1:13-14; 2:13 – God will forgive you.
25. Ephesians 1:6 – You are accepted in Christ.

For more help see please join us at our next New Life Weekend.
Also, see our New Life Devotionals and Bibles.

A Fatal Case of Mistaken Identity

Steve Arterburn

Much like the unfortunate humpback whale calf in Australia who mistook a large boat for his mother, each of us feels the need–and it’s a very real need–to be saved; that is, to be nourished, protected, comforted, and led both powerfully and safely through a life filled with the potential for peril. And again, just like the whale calf, each of us stands in danger of following the wrong savior; that is, someone or something that seems to possess the ability to deliver us, but in fact cannot. Just think about it for a moment.

Our world is full of competing voices, all clamoring for our trust and allegiance. ‘Invest here, vote for me, trust in this, here’s a hope you can really believe in,’ they all say.

But amidst this din, one voice distinguishes itself from the rest. It’s the voice of Jesus Christ. Listen to what he says: ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one’ (John 10:27-30).

My friends, the longing you feel deep within your heart–some
of you feel this need quite palpably, though others surely try to quell it–for a savior is a longing that only Jesus Christ can fulfill. Other voices call for your allegiance, but they make promises and create hopes that they cannot and will not deliver. It is Christ’s voice, and his voice alone, that you must tune your ear to. It is his voice that you can trust; it is his voice that you must hearken to and heed. Jesus Christ will lead you through the rough-and-tumble wilderness of this world, and he will never leave or forsake you. He is altogether worthy of your faith, your hope, and your love.

For more help see our Healing is a Choice resources. Also please prayerfully consider attending our next New Life Weekend.

Rest and Joy at Christmas

Excerpted from The Top Ten Dangers Teens Face by Steve Arterburn and Jim Burns

A few years ago, Jim and
Cathy’s annual Christmas evening discussion went something like this:

Cathy: We’ve got to do it
differently next year.

Jim: I bought all my presents
on Christmas Eve AGAIN!

Cathy: We haven’t had a free
weekend in six weeks.

Jim: I can’t believe I’m going
to work tomorrow when I’m totally exhausted.

Then they promised that next
year they would control their schedule and buy presents earlier.  ‘Next year,’ they said, ‘we’ll spend more
time with the kids and less time cooking, cleaning, and decorating.  Next year, we’ll begin to build special
holiday traditions for the girls.’

The next Christmas, Jim and
Cathy found themselves busier than ever. 
Christmas Eve was a blur.  The
only rest they got was during the hour-long Christmas Eve service at
church.  But even during the celebration
of the Lord’s birth, Jim was planning their traditional Christmas Eve
Chinese-takeout dinner, and Cathy remembered that she forgot to wrap a present
for one of the nine people coming to heir home after the service.  Cathy and Jim breezed through dinner, gifts,
cleaning, preparing Christmas stockings, and completing other necessary tasks
to prepare for Christmas Day.  Then they
dropped into bed at 12:15, too exhausted even to talk with each other.

At 4:47 A.M. Christy wandered
into their room and asked, ‘Is it time yet?’

‘No!’ Jim replied.

At 5:54 A.M. Christy brought
Rebecca, whom she had awakened, and climbed into bed to get Jim and Cathy in the
Christmas spirit.  It didn’t work.  They told the two girls not to wake
Heidi.  At precisely 6:01 A.M. all three
girls, including Heidi (‘We didn’t wake her up, Mommy.  She just woke up by herself when we jumped
on her bed.’), staged a major protest that Jim and Cathy had to get up.  After they opened stockings and presents and
cleaned up the mess (no easy task), they started on breakfast.  After breakfast and a quick reading of Luke
2, Jim and Cathy cleaned the dishes and started preparing Christmas dinner.

Cathy and Jim worked fast and
furiously, too busy to talk to each other or the girls.  When Jim’s parents arrived, Jim and Cathy
just kept cooking.  When other family
members arrived, they served ‘Cathy’s finest meal’ and ate standing up half the
time.  Then on to more presents,
cleaning up, dessert, cleaning up, putting away the presents, making phone
calls, running to the store, and more cleaning up.

It was past time to put the
kids to bed and do PJs, teeth, potty, drinks of water, medicine, more drinks of
water, prayers, stories, screaming, negotiating, begging, threatening, drinks
of water, and preparing to give up. 
Finally, it was quiet.  Just for
good measure, Cathy and Jim did some more cleaning.  At last they sat down on the couch to watch the end of their
favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.  Cathy fell asleep in 10 minutes.  Jim, probably overtired, hungry, depressed,
sick, or who-knows-what, cried like a baby through the last half hour of the
movie.  Stumbling into bed, Jim and
Cathy mumbled, ‘Next year, it’s going to be different’Next year.’

You can call it crazy.   You can call it insane.  But the truth is, most parents today are
just too tired to do proactive parenting. 
One of the major problems with families is the breathless pace at which
we live our lives.  The above story is
no exception.

Overcommitment and fatigue are
two of the greatest distractions from positive parenting.   Our children need our time and
attention.  When Jim and Cathy tried to
remember special meals (such as Christmas dinner) they had as children they
couldn’t remember much about the meals. (Sorry, Mom!)  What they did remember and treasured, however, was the times
their parents took time to play with them’whether it was Dad throwing a ball in
the backyard or Mom having something better to do but playing a game at the
kitchen table one more time.

Here’s my advice: Parents, quit
working so hard.  Save energy for
yourselves, and your family.  If it
means moving to a smaller house or making a smaller car payment, then do
it.  Life’s too short to settle for
fatigue, lack of intimacy, and busyness in the place of meaningful
relationships with your spouse and children.

What are you doing this
Christmas season’this week for that matter’that will be an absolutely enjoyable
experience for you and your children? 
If you don’t have a plan, stop what you’re doing and create one.  Time is too short not to celebrate with your
family.  What’ll stop you from relaxing
a bit and enjoying your kids?  The
dishes can wait.  The home projects can
wait. Turn off the TV.  Grab a few
moments of joy and laughter. 


For more help see our New Life Perspectives on Holidays!

A Lesson in Thanks

Steve Arterburn

Giving thanks is good for our souls.

Still, we all have the question: How can I give thanks in all circumstances?

The answer is: Only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Immediately after commanding the Thessalonians to give thanks in all circumstances Paul says, “Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) You need the fire of the Holy Spirit in your soul if you are ever going to be able to give thanks in all circumstances. Perhaps we can learn this valuable lesson from a great man who went before us.

Abraham Lincoln’s life was marked with pain and

When he was nine, his mother died.

Though he loved books, he received little formal education.

His sister died in childbirth.

At age twenty-four he was left badly in debt when a store he invested in failed.

When he was twenty-five the woman he loved caught fever and died–he suffered deep depression.

Three years later he proposed to another woman and she turned him down.

At thirty-four he lost the nomination for U.S. Congress–one of many elections that he would lose.

Only one of his four sons lived to adulthood–one died just short of age four, one at age 11, one at 18.

Lincoln faced great obstacles and suffered deep depression. He would be remembered as one of the greatest presidents for his courage in ending slavery. And we owe to him gratitude
for his great Proclamation of Thanksgiving. Lincoln was not a man who grieved without hope. He knew the absolute necessity of giving thanks in all times. Consider these words’share them with your family this Thanksgiving:

Proclamation of Thanksgiving



The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and  harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed,

Done at the city of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth

Abraham Lincoln

For more insight on this topic see New Life Perspective: A Thankful Heart.