After a few weeks hiatus, this is the week we return to our “Choosing Jesus” series. This is the second spiritual discipline in our Sabbath series, which is on gratitude. It is only nature that gratitude would proceed celebration. These two disciplines really go together.
While it is November, gratitude isn’t reserved for solely this time of year. We are called to be thankful – “delight[ing] in God and his good will” year long. Delighting in God, is described as “the heartbeat of thankfulness (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook).”
We all have been around others who are either incredibly thankful or a chronic complainer. We need to consider, which kind of person we want to be.
Do we want our hearts to be filled up with bitterness or God and thanksgiving for what He is doing?.
I have refused the gift of gratitude for most of my life. Even my adult life. God is showing me a different way – “the path of life (Ps. 16:11),” where we are given the opportunity to experience God’s Presence and the joy He offers to us. It’s not anything like this world could ever afford. God’s joy is real-and-long-lasting. Our circumstances may not vanish in an instance, but we will begin to realize that we can be happy despite our circumstances.
Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. ~ Henri Nouwen
As we endure our high and low days of life, we can choose to be thankful people. Even when circumstances unforeseen enter our lives, we have much to praise God for.
Why We Can Express Gratitude
We can express thanksgiving, because of our intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. We can rejoice and express thanksgiving – because:
- God has not left us (see Deut. 31:6; Jn. 14:18).
- His joy is within our reach, through His Son Jesus (see Hebrews 12:1-2).
- Others around us, act as a spark to help us learn what gratitude looks like (see Prov. 27:17).
It’s about delighting in Him, not how good life seems to flow.
There are several benefits of developing a thankful heart. Let me try and list a few, for us all, to meditate on this Sabbath.
- Pleasure: God is not the only One who gets pleasure from our spirit of gratitude. We are tremendously blessed, when a light switch in our spirit is turned on – and we go from “complainer” to “the thankful person” (see Neh. 8:10; Prov. 21:19).
This is the Holy Spirit’s work on our lives (see Gal. 5:22-23) – and a result of the Romans 12:1-2 kind of transformation God wants to do in us.
- Promises: It doesn’t just give us pleasure. It helps us to get God’s prospective on things in our lives. We learn God means what He says, when He promises to take care of us – and strengthen us (see 2 Chron. 16:9).
- Perspective: We learn not to take circumstances at a face value, because God is working on our behalf. God is changing our hearts, as we make the choice to follow Him and resolve to let His joy become our own – despite our circumstances (see Col. 3:1-2).
I love this question that is listed in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:
How has a grateful person affected your own vision of what matters in life? How has someone who lives out of bitterness affected your life?
Finally, we come to the one thing that will help us move toward a thankful heart. This is the place where we don’t just talk about gratitude, but choose to live it out.
Take time to focus on what kinds of things help you to give thanksgiving to God. Do you know anyone who reflects a truly thankful spirit who is firmly rooted in Christ Jesus? Focus on building into your daily life a thankful heart, and watch for ways that can flow out of you onto the community He has given you.