Recapturing the Lost Art of Gratitude

Saturday, November 19, 2016

gratitude sign

"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds." Psalm 9:1

A sad reality of human nature is that those who have the most tend to be ungrateful and those who have the least tend to be the most grateful. I have met people that have more money and things than they could ever want and yet still feel that the world owes them something. They seem to want more and are never satisfied with what they have. I have also met people that have lost everything and yet are the most gracious people I know. Even though they don't have much, they still find ways to give to others.

Three years ago I took a leap of faith and followed the Lord's voice to walk away from my position as a full-time staff pastor to pursue a senior pastorate with no prospects or leads. This meant giving up a $50,000.00 a year salary and relying solely on my wife's income. It hasn't been easy and has required some lifestyle changes but God has been so gracious to us and we are actually in a better place financially today than we were three years ago. I have had to recapture the lost art of gratitude as I have had to relearn the lost art of total dependence upon God for everything. I have realized that as I have given up so much I have more to be thankful for than I did back then.

We live in a culture that is becoming devoid of gratitude. You will be hard-pressed to find it on social media. Facebook has become a platform for sharing grievances and vitriol. It would be more accurately called "Hatebook". We live in the wealthiest country in the world. We are the only culture that builds homes with two-car garages that we fill with junk and park our cars in the driveway. We celebrate Thanksgiving by stuffing ourselves with food we don't need rather than feeding people who don't have anything to eat. We desperately need to recapture the lost art of gratitude.

How do we do that? Psalm 9:1 gives us two basic steps to become grateful. They are so incredibly simple yet difficult to master because in order to achieve these two qualities we must defy our basic human nature. It takes practice and determination but it can be done. It will require giving up some things but I can promise you that the payoff is huge and well worth the cost.

The first step is to make the willful decision to be thankful. To do this you have to understand that being thankful is not dependent upon what you have or don't have. We have to learn to be thankful simply because of who God is. When we do that we can finally and truly be thankful no matter what our circumstances are. Don't forget that our circumstances do not change who God is. Therefore, our ability to be thankful stays constant. In fact, the less we have, we find we become more thankful because we have to rely on him. It is then that we learn to truly value the things that matter most. When have everything we want we don't need God because we think we can take care of ourselves and therefore become ungrateful.

Determine today to take that first step. Make the declaration that "I WILL give thanks to the Lord" regardless of my circumstances. If your human nature starts questioning what you have to be thankful for, remind it what it says all throughout the Psalms - "for the Lord is good and his mercy endures forever."

The second step will come naturally as you master the first one. The second step is to allow gratitude to shape the way you talk. As you take the first step to make the willful decision to be thankful you will find your speech will begin to change. Your conversation with others will take a different tone and those around you will notice a profound change. You will find that you don't have time for engaging in negative conversations. Complaining will become uncomfortable and you will feel uneasy around ungrateful people. Instead, you will start to gravitate toward those who are grateful. In fact, people will begin to seek you out because they like your encouraging spirit.

This step, though a natural outflow of the first, will take practice. You have to be intentional about being thankful and encouraging. Find ways to verbally express to others what you are thankful for. Tell those around you how much you appreciate them and that you are thankful for their presence in your life. More importantly, find ways to tell God how thankful you are, not just for what he has done for you, but also because of who he is. You will find that this lifestyle becomes addicting and you just can't stop.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving in just a few short days, let's determine that we will become people of gratitude. Our culture is in desperate need of encouragement and hope. It needs to see that we truly have much to be thankful for. Let's recapture the lost art of gratitude!

Take a moment to watch a video of a song I wrote that I hope will encourage you to be thankful today. Happy Thanksgiving! Give thanks with a grateful heart.

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