May 1, 2010 in Features

Remember God’s gifts and fill each day with thankfulness

By The Spokesman-Review
 

They say laughter is the best medicine.

But I have to disagree, as much as I love a good joke or, better yet, a child’s unrestrained giggles.

What’s better than laughter? What soothes a disquieted soul, helping it soar above its circumstances? What keeps a mind rightly focused?

Gratitude.

If I could bottle up thankfulness and hand it out on the streets these days, I would do so. I’d take a few sips myself, of course, but gladly share this elixir that mends malaise, depression, discontent and even that nagging dissatisfaction that comes from a life spent hurriedly doing things rather than being someone.

Gratitude even has cosmetic benefits – it works wonders on frowns.

But a thankful spirit can’t be bottled and sold, nor can it be foisted on people. Thankfulness is a choice rooted in reality.

Grateful people choose to focus on the reality that not everything in life is hard, sad, boring or somehow deficient. Grateful people understand that this world already has enough complainers, curmudgeons and cynics.

So they choose the better course: focusing on the goodness around them.

When God created the universe and the earth and all that is in it, he declared it all to be very good. Read the Genesis account of creation and note the pattern God set for us: he declared the goodness in each day.

Folks, God still is in the business of doing what is good. Every day. And he shares his goodness with us.

The Bible says, “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 – NKJV).

Gratitude, you see, needs an object to mean anything. God is the rightful object of all gratitude.

Everything good in our lives – the beauty of creation, the joy of friendships, each breath we take – are gracious gifts from God. We take these things for granted, because we forget that God can withhold them at any time.

So often our ingratitude is forged in the furnace of self-centered forgetfulness: we receive God’s blessings so frequently we become bored with them, or, like spoiled children, we assume we somehow merit his blessings.

We don’t. Yet God blesses us anyway because he is gracious.

Of course, the ultimate expression of God’s grace is the gift of his son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

As a Christian, it helps me to remember that ingratitude – a thankless spirit – is a primary attitude of people who live in rebellion against God.

When the Apostle Paul described the unrighteous, those who have not been saved by grace through faith in Christ, he chose these words: “… although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful … ” (Romans 1:21).

So much of the joylessness in life today stems from a lack of sincere thankfulness to God. One psalmist put it this way: “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3 – NIV).

Do you need encouragement today? I’m afraid I don’t have a good joke to offer you.

But can I interest you in some gratitude?

Steve Massey is the pastor of Hayden Bible Church in Hayden, Idaho ( www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.

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