The Mystery of Gratitude
Below is a post I shared on Internet Cafe Devotions. I pray it encourages you in the Lord to be thankful always and for all things!
I’ll never forget sitting in the home of my pastor’s wife in college, folding laundry with her, and listening to every drop of wisdom I could get. She was sharing with me about some of the most important things she wanted to tell pastor’s wives. I leaned in to listen to her closely, not wanting to miss this incredible secret! Miss Carla was going to tell me one of the most important things she had learned over years of being a pastor’s wife!
The words she said were different than I expected. For some reason I felt that I was going to receive a new revelation from the Lord in that moment, but instead, I received a confirmation. Her wisdom was this: “Always be grateful.” Is that what you were thinking she was going to say? The truth is, many of us have missed out on the beauty of gratitude in our lives. It has taken me years for this truth to sink in deep into my heart. And, even today, it is still sinking.
Gratitude often gets a bad rap. It is minimized to a simple list or a word or two spoken at our Thanksgiving feasts. When asked what we are grateful for, we often are at a loss after we’ve listed family, friends, our home, our freedom, etc. The truth is, most of us are missing the incredible power that comes with the gift of gratitude. Miss Carls had learned it over many years of serving in the ministry, also being a mother of five children, and she would tell you today that she is still learning it.
Thanksgiving is at the core of the Bible. It is an overflow of our response to the gospel. In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul explains to the church of Philippi that he had learned the secret of contentment. He had faced hunger as well as abundance, danger as well as safety, and need as well as satisfaction. Through every circumstance that he had faced, one thing remained the same – Christ’s love for Him. Paul was truly grateful. His eyes had seen the glory of Jesus through His death and resurrection on the cross and he was never the same. Paul’s secret to contentment in every situation was a heart of thanksgiving that trumped even the most dismal of circumstances.
When Miss Carla first told me that one of the most important lessons she had learned was to always be grateful, I felt disappointed. I wanted something different, but I didn’t know what that was. The truth is, in that moment, I had forgotten what it was like to taste and see the goodness of Christ. I had become numb to the beauty of the gospel and forgotten the joy and power of gratitude. Being thankful is a gift we have from God. It is not a chore or something we need to check off of our to-do list, but it is a way of life. Nancy Leigh Demoss described it this way:
“Thanksgiving really should be thanksliving—a way of life—day in, day out, morning, noon, and night—continually, forever giving thanks to the Lord.”
Gratitude is a way we worship the Lord everyday. Psalm 69:30 tells us “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” We make much of Christ when we give Him praise, even through suffering, trial, and need. Gratitude changes us and it also changes our vision. Instead of seeing life through the temporary sight of a human, we can see through the holy lens of the gospel. And that, my friends, is the secret. That is why this is one of the most important lessons my mentor learned throughout years of ministry. Gratitude shields us from bitterness, emptiness, and worthlessness. It gives us life when an illness hits us, it gives us hope when the world betrays us, and it gives us peace when our surroundings fall around us.
The mystery of gratitude is this: Christ gave up His life so that we might truly live. And that is enough to keep us singing, praising, and dancing until we get to be with Him one day! The more we sink our hearts deeply into that truth, the more the praises will keep rising and the songs keep flowing, no matter the circumstance. The gospel is that good, sisters. May we get a fresh vision of it this Thanksgiving season.
Questions to think on:
- Have you forgotten the beauty of the gospel? This Thanksgiving season, take time to remember what Christ has done for you on the cross. Meditate on Ephesians 2:1-5.
- When you think of gratitude as worship, how does it change your attitude? In what ways can you express thanksgiving to the Lord everyday?
- Spend time writing down every single thing and person the Lord has placed in your life. Write down everything you come in contact with each day. As you write the list, you will notice it getting very long! Ask the Lord to reveal to you all the ways He cares for you everyday!
- I highly recommend Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book “Choosing Gratitude.”