rhythms of gratitude
They feast on the abundance of Your house, and You give them drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. – Psalm 36:8-9
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! – 2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanksgiving. Perhaps the most overlooked holiday on the calendar. There’s not much money to be made unless you include grocery store spending, right?
Not much to sell us. After all, it is not about giving and receiving gifts.
Sorry—not sorry—about that, Madison Avenue.
This season is more than just a pumpkin spice latté and planning a Friendsgiving menu. Starbucks might’ve figured out how to dress it up and make it special—but have we? Have we even given a thought to what this season should, and can, mean for us as believers?
I have to ask myself, am I a grateful person? Gratitude is more than just a healthy habit for a happy life, it is an essential part of every Christian life. Am I modeling and talking about this with my kids and my family?
I am often stuck on this very truth when I read the list of attributes that Paul warns his young protegé about in 2 Timothy 3:2-3. “For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good . . .”
Right smack in the middle of that list is the word ungrateful. There in that clear mirror of Scripture, I can see myself reflecting back the reality of a discontented, ungrateful heart tucked into that unattractive list along with all those “people in the last days . . . avoid such people.”
Are the rhythms of my life marked by an ungrateful heart? Do I greedily gobble up God’s mercy, promises and grace without ever intentionally stopping to exhale my hallelujahs for gratitude?
A grateful heart
I get it. If I am not remembering, not meditating, and not intentionally thinking about all that God has given me that cannot be taken away, it will be hard—no, make that impossible—to have a grateful heart.
The world (and even my stinking thinking) is often quick to see the glass half-empty. To emphasize what is wrong, what I am lacking, what is slipping, annoying, broken apart, or fading away.
“I want this . . . I must have that . . .” The latest possession. The greatest experience. The invitation to the party.
I consider myself to be a fairly upbeat, glass-half-full type of person. I have a lot to be thankful for. So I am quick to find silver linings, capable of seeing the good in people, and willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Yet there are also times when it’s hard for me to feel genuine gratitude even during the Thanksgiving season.
Too often distracted to burnish our surfaces and look good so that other people won’t spot the messes we see. But if we can gently help ourselves back to the present moment, we just might see how lavishly God gives grace upon grace upon grace, with strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
A story to tell
You will have a story to tell, which is a salvation that saves us in this moment the way Jesus saved us in the past.
In Psalm 103, David urges himself to bless the Lord and do not forget. He has forgiven you, healed you, come through for you, and promises good things that are permanently fixed. How about you start giving praise for this:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far does He remove our transgressions from us.
So along with David right now, let’s bow and “Bless the Lord O my soul . . . don’t forget!”
How can we sing?
This Thanksgiving season, I know that among our church family, are those who are asking, “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”
How could we sing when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one, enduring a dark season of depression, absorbing alarming medical news, or trying to make sense of a major life disruption?
It is not that we stop believing God. It is just that in this moment right now, it’s hard to see the light for all the darkness.
That is when we have the opportunity to offer perhaps the most significant gift to the Lord.
A sacrifice of praise
Perhaps you are in that season. Don’t be in a hurry to “get over it.” Grief can’t be shoehorned into a manageable timeline. Be patient. Be okay with not being able to “fix it.”
Because even when I don’t feel it, I can and should offer praise to our God who has written our names in His Book of Life.
It should be enough to praise Him for eternity.
Which we will.
As a current psalm writer has urged themselves in song, so we sing.
I’ve got one response
I’ve got just one move
With my arm stretched wide
I will worship You
So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah
So come on, my soul
Oh, don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord[i]
[i] Branden Lake, Gratitude