It's that time of year again when everyone asks What are you grateful for. It's easy for me to look over my life and say Thank You, God, for all you have done. However, I am challenged when things don't go my way to stay with a posture of gratitude. To do better, I'm studying gratitude and doing devotionals. As I was reading today, I was encouraged by the lesson and wanted to share it. I hope this encourages you all as much as it motivates me.
Grateful Even for This
As I stood at the kitchen sink, complaining about having to cut each individual grape in half and removing each of its tiny seeds, I thought, “I wasn’t the one who accidentally bought grapes with seeds, so why do I have to be the one who’s so inconvenienced?” As I grew more annoyed with the tedious task set before me, my thoughts turned towards the upcoming holiday: Thanksgiving. My attitude was far from one of giving thanks. How could something so small (literally!) lead to such complaining? Silently I prayed, “Lord forgive me. Help me to give thanks even in this.” And He did: instead of complaining about someone buying the wrong grapes, I thanked Him that others in my family do the grocery shopping and that we had grapes to eat; instead of complaining that I had to pick out four tiny seeds per grape (yes, in my state of complaining I actually counted them!), I thanked Him for the people who would eat and enjoy them. My perspective completely changed, but more importantly, praise and thanks were offered to the One to whom it is due.
I’m sure you aren’t complaining about grapes today, but is there something else that is keeping you from being grateful? In Luke 17, we read of ten lepers who cried out to Jesus that He might have mercy on them. He did, and He healed them. As you know, only one of the ten returned and thanked Jesus. Let us not assume that we will remember to give thanks to Him in the “big and miraculous” moments if we don’t make a habit of doing it in the small ones.
In fact, a story is told of Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, while they were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. Despite the filth and the fleas, Betsie was convinced that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 was God's will for them. Yes, they were to give thanks even when surrounded by fleas. This seemed completely unrealistic until Corrie realized that it was because of the fleas that the guards didn't enter their barracks and therefore didn't insist that they stop praying and singing. Yes, even the fleas were used to bring about God's will in their lives, just as the grape seeds were used to work God's will within my heart: namely, to grow within me a heart of gratitude.
How can we put 1 Thessalonians 5:16 - 18 into practice in our own lives? How can we “rejoice always, pray continually” and “give thanks in all circumstances?” It has been noted that the Bible does not tell us to be thankful for all things but rather in all things. Perhaps we can begin to give thanks "in all things” by remembering "that all things” - yes, even that thing! - work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
This month, and always, let's aim to give Him thanks for the big things (as did the leper) and for the small annoyances (like the fleas or in my case, the grape seeds), knowing that even these are used to bring about His will in our lives - or our hearts - when used to grow us in gratitude.