“Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder” (G. K. Chesterton).
“What I have found is that the rhythm of divine renewal beats in the pulse of a purposefully grateful heart” (Ellen Vaughn, Radical Gratitude).
Gratitude is the best remedy for discouragement. When I feel despondent, I know that I need Divine renewal and there is a deep connection between divine renewal and a thankful heart. Unthankfulness is more than a personal matter; it’s a spiritual issue that affects my fellowship with God and my joy in God. It’s also a loss of perspective that potentially insults God.
And I don’t need small doses of gratitude. It’s not a matter of finding a few things to be thankful for. Someone warned that it’s a sign of mediocrity when you express gratitude with moderation.
We need to “engage in the perpetual dialogue of gratitude.” When we do this, we “turn the tide, rather than follow along on the lazy downward spiral of negativity.” (Vaughn)
Do you default into negativity? Do you tend to see everything that’s wrong in life? Do you focus more on what you don’t have, but want? When thankfulness diminishes life becomes more difficult. The ungrateful only sabotage themselves with their ungrateful hearts. Negativity is the path of laziness that leads to mediocrity and misery. Those who rejected God “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21).
God calls us to be extravagantly grateful.
“Give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thessalonians 5:18). “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
“Cultivating a grateful heart is not just an add-on nicety, a civil tip of the hat to God as we steamroll through our day. A posture of purposeful, perpetual thanks to God is absolutely central to Christian character” (Vaughn).
But how can we give thanks when we hurt so much?
Some find it hard to be thankful because of the suffering and loss they’ve experienced. Life in this world can be hard and painful. But, C. S. Lewis wisely recommended that, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good,’ because it is good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”
I must learn to ask God to help me through my loss and sadness and to gain a clearer vision for my eternal home (see: John 14:1-3). I must ask God to protect me from becoming defiled and infectious with bitterness (see: Hebrews 12:15).
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV).
When it’s hard to embrace these truths, pour out your heart to, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (II Corinthians 1:3-4). Approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that you may receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Perhaps the way out of the tunnel of deep sadness is to engage in the worship of extravagant gratitude. I suggest three categories for practicing thanksgiving: spiritual, relational and material blessings. Make a list under each one as your guide for thanksgiving. The psalmist wrote, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2).
Let me get it started:
“I am so grateful that, ‘As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust'” (Psalm 103:13-14).
“I am grateful that, ‘God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us'” (II Corinthians 4:6-7).
Your turn — “I am grateful for …………”
Thanksgiving songs that I’ve enjoyed for many years:
See also: Extravagantly grateful people