Elie Wiesel survived the worst of the Nazi regime including being imprisoned in one of their concentration camps and losing many family members to the horrible death machinations of that evil cabal. He was, at first, embittered, cursing life itself. Later, he realized that the one thing the Nazis could not steal from him was his response to life. He wrote about the importance of a choice we can all make. “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” In my own life, having experienced many disappointments along the way, I know that how I choose to respond remains my choice. There are reasons I could complain bitterly. But, there are many reasons to be thankful, too. I choose gratitude!
On this first day of a New Year, I write to encourage one of the most critical decisions we can make. We can find reasons to thank God, even in the dark days. We can learn to appreciate the people that surround us, expressing our thanks for the ways that they make our lives richer. Paul points us to the fountain from which thankfulness overflows.
True gratitude that changes our lives goes far beyond self-control or censoring our words. He says that when we are “rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,” the result will be that we are “overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7, NIV) In the losses that I have experienced, I have told myself a thousand times, “Jerry, there is nothing happening to you today that caught God by surprise!” Beyond that, I am assured that He is always working for good – for me, for His Kingdom – in my life.
No, am not a fatalist, nor do I believe that everything in my path of life happens because God made it happen. I suffer as a result of my own foolish and/or sinful choices. I experience difficulties that flow into my life because others make foolish, sinful, or selfish choices. That is why I do not join those who tell us to thank God for everything. But, by His grace, I will choose to thank Him IN the MIDDLE of the messes as much as in the great successes. In that surrender of my will, in the dethroning of my ego, there is a grace of gratitude that grows as a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s life that can flourish. The Word is simple and clear – “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT) I pray for a better grade in gratitude and thus, a better life in 2019.
So, let me put it to you – Does gratitude flavor your life? Are the words that fill up the air and your first thoughts shaped by an attitude of appreciation and gratitude? Looking back over the past year, what grade for gratitude would you give yourself? Want a better estimate? Ask your spouse or a trusted friend for a grade! In the ordinary situations of life are you more prone to gripe and complain over minor inconvenience or have you learned how to let go of self-centeredness that blocks true gratitude?
Let me suggest that you join me in a prayer of praise, true worship, heart-deep expressions of your thankfulness for His love, on this first day of the year. May the light of Jesus shine brightly in us as we break the cycle of complaint, replacing our gripes with ceaseless thanks.
Here is a word from the Word.
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:24-29, NIV)
10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055