Some days if we are all being honest we will admit that it’s difficult to feel grateful. Yet other times, we’re so moved filled with gratitude we can’t help but feel joy and optimism. These two very different emotions are usually based on circumstances.
But what if we intentionally choose to be grateful in spite of our circumstance?
Researchers describe gratitude as a personality strength: the ability to be keenly aware of the good things that happen and never take them for granted. It’s been shown that individuals who exhibit and express the most gratitude are happier, healthier and more energetic. Grateful people report fewer symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and they spend more time being active. Also, the more a person is inclined to feel grateful, the less likely they are to feel lonely, stressed, anxious and depressed.
All of that sounds great! But… easier said than done. Have you noticed that most things in life worth doing are not done easily? Teddy Roosevelt once said,
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. . . . I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.
It’s not easy to get a college degree. It’s not easy to develop and maintain a healthy marriage and friendships. It’s not easy to raise children. It’s not easy to keep that job and give your best day in and day out. It’s not always easy to be grateful.
Gratitude is a choice we all have the ability to make. Love is an act of the will. Joy is an act of the will. Peace is an act of the will. Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all choices we make in spite of the world around us and the feelings inside us. We see that all these choices are good and are choices we ought to make. Galatians 5:22-23 says,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We must choose to believe, even when doubts flood our soul. We must choose to give thanks, even when our heart doesn’t feel grateful. We must choose to worship, even when our voice doesn’t want to sing. We must choose to serve our Lord Jesus Christ, even when we would prefer to serve ourselves.
Joshua 24:15 says,
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
How about today, we choose to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:18,
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Regardless of what you face right now, choose to give thanks to the Lord for all He has done. Give thanks for His love that surpasses any and every circumstance. Psalm 106:1 says,
Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Gratitude unlocks the door to a heart of contentment, for contentment is never found in abundance alone. Contentment flows from the abundance of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11,
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says,
When you drink from the stream, remember the spring.
We live in a country abounding in resources, prosperity, and freedom. And yet we also experience political divisiveness, violence, a slumbering church, and natural disasters such as the horrific fires in California leaving a wake of death and destruction.
What causes us to rise above the chaos and celebrate the blessings is to “remember the spring” from which we drink. Lets remember the spring of Christ’s love, sacrifice, and honor that granted us freedom from sin. Galatians 5:1 says,
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
John 4:14 says,
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
If you drink the water of life, remember the spring of His love that never runs dry. As has been said many times, “Freedom is never free.” Our national freedom came at the cost of many lives. Our spiritual freedom came at the cost of the life of One.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
What are you grateful for today? Let us be grateful for the freedom we have in Christ. And if we drink from the stream of freedom, let us remember the spring from which that freedom flows.