When I turned 23 I made a list of the 23 things I was thankful for in my life up to that point. It was a nice series of Facebook statuses.
At 29 I realize the need for gratitude more than ever. In fact, this blog site has been rooted in the reality that I need to live a life that demonstrates humility. I need to always be “Deeply Grateful.”
Why do you think our grip on thankfulness and gratitude slips? Where do we go wrong?
I think the first area where we slip up is basing our thankfulness upon immediate circumstances. When we do this, it causes our emotions to frantically fluctuate with each moment.
Perfect example: I spent my 29th birthday like this
- office time interrupted by pain and phone calls
- going to the dentist to find out that I need a root canal
- buying a minivan
- having a screaming toddler
- running in 90+ degrees
- having a small group start going over the Beatitudes
If my gratitude was dependent upon my feelings, then I really would not be thankful for the last 3-4 days. My tooth has been throbbing! Thankfully the antibiotics and steroids have reduced the pain from a 6-7 to mostly being a 3-4 with occasional flair-ups to 6. Instead my face has just swollen like a balloon.
But that lesson on the Beatitudes made me reconsider blessings. As Colin Smith says in this series, “Jesus never mentions what we consider to be blessings in the Beatitudes” (rough paraphrase… sorry LifeWay).
A blessed life is one demonstrated by a humble repentance which admits that I am not where I need to be/ am called to be as a Christian. Therefore I must instead continually seek the face of the Eternal Pre-eminent Savior. As I seek Him, my heart will be moved to repentance, I will desire justice and righteousness, I will see, receive mercy, and therefore give mercy, and experience a greater purity of heart and peace which can only come through the grace of God.
My gratitude must always be rooted in the eternal plan of God. Because of Christ I am made righteous (Romans 5:1-10). This means God took me out of death and made me alive. And this life is one that is to be devoted to Him and his blessed ways (Romans 6; Ephesians 2:1-10). I am declared to be part of a Holy Priesthood (2 Peter 2:4-10). I am given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).
These are the blessings which a believer must always cling to. When our lives do not demonstrate a peace, a hope, or a joy which transcends immediate circumstances then we are betraying the truths to which God calls us.
This is not to say that we cannot be thankful for good health, children, functional vehicles, education, parents and siblings, good careers, financial stability, or good coffee. But all of those things can be gone in a flash.
Rather, our eyes need to be turned to our Heavenly Father who is told to be the giver of all these good things (James 1:17). When we depend upon the gift and not the giver for our joy, then we will never have joy (read Ecclesiastes).
But when our hope is set on God– this causes a peace which surpasses all understanding.