We are exploring the importance of gratitude to our work of cultivating a joyful heart. So far this week we have discussed accepting all of God’s choices for us as ultimately good (Monday) and the destructive nature of complaining (Tuesday). Today Lorraine Hill is talking specifically about being thankful for God’s blessings. In 1994, my husband and I had a very small wedding and moved into an apartment with hand-me down furniture. We had one good car and one bad one. Then, while we put ourselves through professional schools, we earned our degrees and a good bit of debt at the same time. Back then when our second-hand washer broke down, my parents bought our new one – we simply did not have the money. Every set back was a crisis. It took us many years to get out of debt and implement our savings plan. All along the way, we have seen God’s Hand providing constantly for our needs. This period of financial instability will keep me forever grateful for the roof over our heads, our full pantry, money in the bank, cars that work and so much more. Additionally, during our marriage, we have been separated by military deployments, had five moves and two children, experienced serious health crises and had many, many “opportunities for spiritual growth” (i. e trials and tribulations!)…more training in gratitude. The times of being a have-not in these categories has helped me develop a real appreciation for the fulfillment of these needs. I look at our life now and see so many things to be thankful for, that I literally cannot list them all (per yesterday’s self-disclosure…I do occasionally struggle with complaining but it only takes a moment of counting blessings to relieve me of that burden).
So I feel very grateful for God’s provision of our many needs, but I have realized that the deepest need met by God has not been physical or financial (though there are not enough words to express my appreciation for these things). Hands down, the greatest gift God has given me is His fellowship – the opportunity to know, and love, and belong to Him. He is the Creator of the Universe who yet has formed my inward parts; [and] knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Ps 139:13). He is the faithful Father who has never given up on me, even when I have behaved as The Lost Son did, who, when he came to his senses, said, ‘˜How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:17-20). God sacrificed His only Son to redeem that which would otherwise be lost – me and you! Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed (Is 53:5). He is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18:24). The Father is a constant gardener – He is not willing to let us languish in our sin. He cuts off every branch…that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15:1). He has promised that we will not be alone. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deut 31:8). And Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:20). Jesus has promised us peace and has told us we have no need to fear. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27). He has given our lives purpose! For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10). He will always protect us and He has said, “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation (Ps 91:14-16).
Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits
Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Ps 103:1-5).
God created us to be grateful creatures. It is when we give thanks, that our hearts can sing. Ungratefulness leads us down to the pit. So today, revel in His creation (the birds in the backyard), enjoy your relationships (hug someone special to you), and dwell on the thought that the LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand (Ps 37:23-24). Thank you Lord for everything!
JustaGirl…just like you