Choosing to be grateful. Sounds great- but often like a Hallmark card or a bumper sticker, without context and without framework, it feels annoyingly simplistic. Choose gratitude? “But I have so much anxiety right now.” “But there is so much to worry about right now.” “But there are real problems that need real fixes and simply “being grateful” isn’t going to fix anything.” But…but…but.
The power of gratitude is that it can’t always whitewash the real challenges or heartaches or stresses in our life, but it helps keep those things at the periphery instead of in the center. When we dwell in gratitude, we allow God to stay in the center of our focus and attention and keep those things that need worrying about on the edge, where we can actually keep them in their healthy perspective. Because at least for me, when I center on my problems and my anxieties instead of centering on God, I become fairly worthless in regards to being a blessing in the world.
Being grateful is like choosing to dwell in the blessings of the everyday instead of drowning in the minutia of what’s not well. Remember in Philippians…Paul says: God is near. Yes God is near. He is here. It is the power of the resurrection we celebrated so mightily at Easter. Jesus died and came alive to bring us real life here and now- not just when we die. And because He left His spirit here, we know that God is in this place. We see markers of God’s presence at every good and joyful thing on earth. Anything good here on Earth? That sunrise, the laugh of my two-year old, the kiss from a lover, the first beat of a new album…its all from HIM.
So choose gratitude. Choose to be joyful. Choose to look at the positive and not center on the negative. Yes your life is an unfinished work. Yes you have challenges. Yes things are not ideal. They never will be. Not here on earth, because we live in an age that though the Spirit is here, God isn’t finished with this place yet. Someday, the book of Revelation tells us, God will wipe every tear from our eye and there will be no more weeping and no more heartache. But until then, we live in a real world that has challenges. But the sooner you can be grateful for what you have, for who you are, for what God created you to do here and now, peace will reign in your life.
The bible tells us to be grateful. 1 Thessalonians tells us “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Why is this God’s will? Same reason I teach my kids to be thankful for their meals, or a gift from a friend. Because gratitude becomes a gateway to thankfulness and thankfulness becomes a gateway to joy. Want to meet truly joyful people in the world? They are those that are thankful and grateful for each friend, for special day, for each small blessing in their life. Simply put: gratitude teaches us to live richer lives.
Sunday our head pastor RD preached on this and showed this powerful clip from Louie Schwartberg’s TED talk. The whole video is good but if you are in a rush, skip ahead to 3:58 into the video to see a short video piece on GRATITUDE. Trust me…you will be thankful you spent the few minutes watching it.
May you be showered with good things. And may you give thanks for it all.