Gratefulness…Thankfulness…We try to teach our children to have these qualities as soon as they can talk. Sometimes we assume that because they say “thank you” at the appropriate times that they actually are grateful! In fact, we even think that about ourselves! But have we ever thought about why we are so prone to be ungrateful and unappreciative for the many gifts God gives us?
SUFFERING SHOWS US WHETHER WE ARE GRATEFUL…OR ENTITLED!
I remember when our first daughter was stillborn. After I got over the initial shock, the anger was overwhelming! When all was said and done, I felt entitled to a healthy, living child. It was the American way. We were in full-time ministry. God owed us. Look what we were doing for Him? Would I have said that out loud? Of course not. But at the root of my anger that was my thinking. In the nearly 50 years since, I hope I have grown in my level of gratefulness for the gifts God chooses to give me as well as the realization that they are gifts.After I got over the initial shock, the anger was overwhelming! When all was said and done, I felt entitled to a healthy, living child. It was the American way. We were in full-time ministry. God owed us. Click To Tweet
About 10 years ago, I went through a four year period where I lost much of my health, particularly related to thinking and memory. I was having a lot of seizures as well, so for that period of time, I was not able to drive. I had never gone that long without driving before. To say it cramped my style would be quite an understatement!
Once again, I became very upset. My entitlement mentality was popping up again! When I say I know I’m not perfect, I’m not just being sweet and humble. I know it is true. I need the grace of God thoroughly. I felt entitled to the good health I had experienced all those years. My epilepsy had been well controlled for over 30 years. God had gifted us with three beautiful daughters who were healthy. That was no small thing.
Was I grateful? I thought so, but when He took away the health that I took for granted, I was angry! I expected this great life He had given. I wasn’t grateful for the blessing of it. On many levels, I expected this of God. He owed me. Of course, my theological “beliefs” did not say that. But my experience showed my true heart. It showed what I truly believed. It was not a pleasant sight.
TEST OF GRATEFULNESS
The test of gratefulness? When God removes a gift we have had, do we accept that from His hand as Job did or do we have a tantrum? Do we feel entitled to the gifts we have been given? If so, then we aren’t grateful or thankful. Gratefulness and entitlement can’t live together. We often must choose gratefulness as an act of faith.The test of gratefulness? When God removes a gift we have had, do we accept that from His hand as Job did or do we have a tantrum? Do we feel entitled to the gifts we have been given? If so, then we aren't grateful or thankful. Click To Tweet
So here we are in the “Season of Gratefulness” which has come to be equated with lots of food! How sad is that? We get busy cooking and planning for the meals when our families get together (not a bad thing) but once again forget to focus on our hearts. We have gotten too busy, too stressed, too tired to pause and think. So we keep racing on and don’t reflect on what we have to be grateful for and to Whom we are grateful.
GRATEFULNESS IS NOT SEASONAL, BUT A WAY OF LIFE
Gratefulness is a way of life! It is not for a season but for each day. As I write those words, I realize how far short I fall of taking the time to spend with my Heavenly Father simply to be thankful to Him for His wonderful provisions in many ways on many levels of life! When I do it, it is mind blowing and spirit lifting! Read some encouraging words from His Word. Make time to memorize one of them for your soul’s encouragement.
And I am sure of this,
that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion
at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6 ESV
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:7-8 ESV
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
to the only God, our Savior,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority,
before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25 ESV
***This is a rewrite and update of an earlier post written 11/5/2010.