Being Grateful Shapes Your Life
The Power of Gratitude - Pt. 2
Happy Thanksgiving! I love the opportunity this holiday offers for us to consider what we’re thankful for. How great would it be if we could focus more on gratitude during the other 51 weeks of the year, too! I believe it would have tremendous impact on our society, and our own personal happiness.
For me, choosing to live a lifestyle of gratitude has been one of the most revolutionary choices I’ve ever made.
Before we dive into Pt. 2, did you catch Pt. 1 last week? If not, here’s your chance…
How Do You Say Thank You?
But maybe more importantly, to whom do you say thank you? Since this newsletter is called Faith Without All the Hoopla, I’m going to focus on the value of directing our thank yous to God.
When I acknowledge God as the source of all my blessings...I suddenly become able to see how God continually wants to bless me more.
For me, the reason for directing my gratitude toward God stems from a foundation of simply acknowledging God's gift of Jesus.
This is my (obviously limited but trying my best) understanding of the purpose of Jesus. God's way of showing us how unbelievably loved we are—and how living in relationship is what we were created for—was to take on the form of a tiny baby, and come live among us. Jesus lived such a radical, revolutionary life, that the religious experts of the day didn't even recognize who he actually was. They were threatened by him, and feared Jesus would make his followers try to overthrow the religious (and political!) establishment of the day. So they killed him. They beat him and hung him on a cross until he died, burying him in a tomb in the side of a mountain, taking with him the curse of all our sin. But as he predicted, Jesus didn't last more than three days in that tomb. He rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, leaving the Spirit behind to live with us, until the day we're together in eternity.
What is Your Response to This?
Your response will shape the very essence of your life. Saying thank you to God for this gift of salvation is the ultimate act of gratitude. You can then live your life continually saying thank you to God through prayer, worship, and service to others.
Gratitude is A Choice
I have a choice as to how I'm going to respond to God's love for me. I could sit around my house and revel in the fact that the God of the Universe is passionately in love with me. Or I could allow that powerful love to be the fuel that gets me out of the house, filled with strength, courage, compassion, and creativity to interact with the world around me.
This is not about how loved you might (or might not) feel. Or trying to get God to love you more, or have some kind of experience. It’s about believing you are. I’ve sought those kind of experiences: I’ve tried worship where I sing with eyes closed, arms outstretched, seeking to have a "good worship experience." And sometimes I feel all gushy and warm, like "God really showed up." But many times I don’t feel a thing. But the fact remains that God has shown up...and will continue showing up...regardless of how I feel. Actually, it requires for me to have more faith in the truth of God when the "feelings" are absent.
Gratitude is continually choosing to not place such high value on my own feelings, and place higher value on the people around that God puts in my life—people who are desperately wanting to experience God's love, hope and compassion. I receive from God, not so I can hold onto it, but so that I can give it away to others. God so loved the world that....he gave his only son. (John 3:16) God demonstrated immense love to the world by sending Jesus to walk our planet. I desire to show God my own love in return...in grateful worship…and then demonstrate that same kind of love to the world around me. God so loved me and you...so we can give our lives away to others.
Here’s a sample prayer if you’d like join me:
Dear God... I want to live my life saying THANK YOU for all you've done for me. If it takes me every breath I have remaining on this Earth, it wouldn't be enough thank yous to compare to all you've given me. But I'm now convinced that you are asking me to be more of a grateful person than I've ever been. And I'm finally ready. With your help, let me live each day saying thank you to my family, my friends, everyone I meet, and especially, to you, my God.
This is a stunning short film (about six minutes) that always brings me to tears. It’s all about gratitude. (I posted this on Facebook this week and you can share it to your page from there, if you’d like!)
Favorite Quotes About Gratitude
The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: "Thank you"
Begin by thanking [God] for some little thing, and then go on, day by day, adding to your subjects of praise; thus you will find their numbers grow wonderfully; and, in the same proportion, will your subjects of murmuring and complaining diminish, until you see in everything some cause for thanksgiving.
Being thankful is not telling God you appreciate the fact that your life is not in shambles. If that is the basis of your gratitude, you are on slippery ground. Every day of your life you face the possibility that a blessing in your life may be taken away. But blessings are only signs of God's love. The real blessing, of course, is the love itself. Whenever we get too attached to the sign, we lose our grasp on the God who gave it to us. Churches are filled with widows who can explain this to you. We are not ultimately grateful that we are still holding our blessings. We are grateful that we are held by God even when the blessings are slipping through our fingers.
On the night he was robbed: I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.