By Jess Brown
Giving thanks is something that is often saved for the holiday season. We make exceptions and invite family who we normally don’t see over for Christmas dinner, or we feel a bit more generous with charities or volunteering for Thanksgiving. A lot of the awe and remembrance of the good in the world happens in those two months, and if we’re not careful, we can fall into this convenient gratitude. This type of gratitude feels obligatory, forced, and isn’t from the overflow of God’s love. Yet, we as Christians, are meant to live with this gratitude every single day.
This sounds like quite the tall order, and it truly isn’t meant to be. Now we all know that life is not always easy, being a series of ups and downs with twists and turns. God promises us as much in John when Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Even in light of this truth, we who are genuinely seeking after God, should always have a heart posture of gratitude because of what Jesus did when He died for us on the cross.
I can remember so many times where God has reminded me who He is:
- Exodus 14:4 – I will fight for you
- Isaiah 40:29 – I will give you strength
- Isaiah 54:10 – My love for you is unfailing
- James 1:5 – I will give you wisdom
- Deuteronomy 31:8 – I will never leave you
And those are just five mentions among the hundred of verses in Scripture. I’ve heard God’s promises in many more ways and there are tons of ways the Bible shows us God’s great character. It shows the power of His promise and how immediately our response must be thanksgiving because of His goodness. But how does this apply to our every day?
LIFE IS ABOUT APPLICATION
Try imagining yourself in a hard season, or maybe you are in one already: If you’re like me, feeling sorry for yourself or wanting to give up is a reaction that is easy to come by. Sometimes our flesh will cry out for our lives to be less burdened, and we want to call it quits instead of choosing gratitude.
Years ago, I struggled like this in the beginning of a new job. I felt exposed; I didn’t understand a lot of what I was doing and I didn’t feel confident in myself or the skills I felt I possessed. I felt like I wasn’t smart enough, and because of past experiences, I worried that my job security would be threatened because of it. Most of my time was spent reading up, doing my studies, and trying very hard to understand problems I needed to solve. Even the logic behind the tasks themselves took me a long time to understand, but eventually it all clicked.
Now fast forward to today. I felt as if I came across the same situation about a month ago in my new job. It’s funny how life can come full circle, as the same lessons can come up over and over again, while we have the choice as to whether we want to keep learning about God in opportunity. Even still, doubts like, ‘Am I qualified for this? What if I’m not smart enough for this? Why can’t I pick up what I’m supposed to be learning?’, swirled around in my mind. But that’s not where it ends. God’s lessons and His promises demand gratitude, and with this new job, I did not have to make a conscious choice to thank Him. The fruit of His promises are there, and the Holy Spirit calmed my mind as the second guessing began.
The Holy Spirit can work like that. He is not quiet. The Spirit reminds us that God gives us wisdom, provides His presence, and His love before and will forever. As doubts whisper in our ears, the Holy Spirit speaks truth loudly, demanding to be heard. These truths hold up the wall that protects us from the lies of doubt. The scriptures I’ve read years before come to mind and reassure me of what is Holy. When I look back on this time, I remember it only took a few days before something I was struggling with became completely clear. It was not because I did anything differently. It was if I suddenly had wisdom to understand, and it was all God’s doing.
IT’S A DAILY CHOICE
I think that’s what daily gratitude is: investing in our time with God. We renew our mind in worship, or the Bible, or focusing on God enough to speak into our day without any interruption. He promises to draw near to us as we draw near to Him. Gratitude is a natural outcome of being relational with God. Being near God compels us towards a heart of thanksgiving.
So the question is, instead of waiting for the season to harvest your feelings of thanksgiving, what can you do daily to plant seeds for God? I promise you, when He reveals Himself, (and He always does), your response will be songs of gratitude. Pray with me:
Father, we enter Your courts today with praise. Because of who You are, we are welcome to remain in childlike wonder and awe at Your goodness. When You spoke of Zion in Isaiah, You promised to renew her. I speak the same promise over every woman reading this because “joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” No season or weapon formed against us will prosper because Your name is greater. We are humbled by who You are. Help us remember all You have done and be expectant of all You will do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.