I've been thinking a lot lately about gratitude and being truly thankful. I'm trying to grow in this area. Then yesterday as I sorted through my email, I ran across this "Weekly Walk" devotional from my pastor's radio ministry, Walk in the Word. Please see below and may it impact you as much as it did me.
"So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." - Hebrews 13:12-15
If we were to interview five people who know you best, would they say that you are a glass half-full or a glass half-empty kind of person? Do you tend toward gratefulness or grouchiness? I've taught at Harvest frequently that there are three learned levels of thankfulness. Everybody is enrolled in the school of gratitude—but too many people are flunking out!
First there's basic, for the lack of a better term, elementary school thankfulness. Hebrews 13:15 says, "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." Thanksgiving is the sacrifice.
I can almost hear you say, "Okay! You want me to be thankful? Fine! I'll make a list. Here are some things. I'll make the sacrifice. I'll be thankful on command!" Congratulations. You're in elementary school gratitude. It's a place to start. But don't stay there!
Once you have developed a consistent habit of thanksgiving, it's time to graduate to the next level—high school thankfulness. First Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything, give thanks."
"I guess I can find something to be thankful for in every situation. I might not be thankful for my husband, but I'm thankful for my kids." "I might not be thankful for my job, but I'm thankful for my health insurance." "I might not be thankful for my health, but I'm thankful for my sister...my pastor." In other words, deliberate, but selective gratitude.
Finding something to be thankful for in everything is certainly a step above having random grateful thoughts, but there is still plenty of room for developing a deeply thankful heart. Here's what you're going for, brothers and sisters: Graduate school thankfulness. Ephesians 5:18-20 says, "Giving thanks to God at all times for all things." No matter what's happening; no matter how dark the moment is, God is in control. He can be explicitly trusted. He's working out a purpose beyond what you can imagine. Some of it you'll see in this life; some of it you'll see in the life to come. Give thanks to God. Go for it. Give thanks to God for the hardest part of your life. Just say, "Thank You God for this. You are good!" Watch the blessing begin to flow your way.
~ James MacDonald (c) 2008 Walk in the Word