If only my children would be more grateful . . .
As a young mom, I was sure that was the answer to many of the disciplinary issues we were having in our home. So I set out to help them understand gratitude beginning with, “When someone gives you something, always say ‘thank you’ even if you don’t like it. People give things to be nice, and it doesn’t matter what the gift is.”
My theory was that if they could learn gratitude when they were young, they would be grateful teenagers then adults and not feel entitled.
Of course, I had to check my own ungrateful heart. Had I somehow missed the mark? Had I forgotten the Giver of Life, my Provider and my Savior.
No, I hadn’t actually forgotten, but I had failed to humble by myself daily, particularly when I prayed.
I was in a daily battle, and still am, for God’s supremacy in my life, particularly on the battlefield of my mind. It’s a fight that continues to this day, two decades after I vowed to prevent my children from being ungrateful.
During this season of gratitude, I challenge you, Christian, to make a concerted effort to be thankful in all circumstances.
My mind continues to be at war with a whole lot of negative things, especially when is comes to what God desires of me versus what I desire.
If I could just be in God’s corner on both of those issues, the battle would be more than halfway over.
If I am truly grateful to the Creator of the universe, my Savior and the Holy Spirit I would fall down in reverence and seek his face in every waking moment. The prophet Micah had a message from God to his chosen people, the Israelites, who continually forgot what he had done for them:
“He has shown you, O mankind, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
In gratitude for God’s good provision, the good things God showed them, Israelites were required to do three things:
Walk humbly with God
But no, the Israelites couldn’t do it, and neither can I .
You see it written on barn wood in fancy script and printed on T-shirts:
Why is their story in the Bible? Well, it’s not just for kicks and grins. Their story is my story, and I am no better than the chosen people of God. My gratitude often depends on where my mind wanders, and it often throws a pity party for itself.
As the song says, “I’m a blood-bought, faithful member of the family (of God),” but I don’t act much like it. I don’t live like I’ve been redeemed by Jesus’ blood to serve the resurrected Savior of the world.
Besides just trying to control my forgetful mind there are others things we can do so we can truly remember what the Lord requires then live in gratitude instead of entitlement.
#1 – List the tangibles and intangible gifts. Be specific about God’s blessings he has lavished on you, and start with the word GRACE in big, bold letters. Include the flesh-and-blood ones and the good gifts (that we don’t deserve) he gives so generously. Your life is a miracle just like mine. What are those miracles?
#2 – Pray. Begin your prayers by praising God for who he is and what his attributes are. If you’re not sure of those attributes, the book by Jen Wilkin, None Like Him, lists the top ten and explains what they mean in the life of a Christian.
#3 – Worship. Don’t just go through the motions during your church’s worship time or, for me anyway, in your car. Speak-sing the words directly to the God who sacrificed his Son for you. Whether it’s the hymn you’ve known all your life or the new song straight from Scripture, let the music wash over you
#4 – Read the Bible. There are numerous Bible verses about giving thanks and having a grateful heart, but the book of Colossians has nine references in its four chapters! Paul’s story is a miraculous one, so he lived a grateful life and freely expresses the reasons in all of his letters. Read the short book of Colossians and underline or list each verse that encourages thankfulness.
Let this season of thanksgiving draw you closer to the God of miracles so you can win the battle of your mind, walk humbly with him and learn to receive good gifts with a grateful heart.