I appreciate you!

Everybody complains about something at least some of the time. It seems that we slip more easily into griping than gratitude, tending to note what’s wrong than what’s right. Nowhere is that more likely to happen than in our homes, in the context of our closest relationships.  We take more liberties with the people we with whom we rub shoulders every day, criticizing, noting perceived failures, becoming irritated with their little weird habits. And, that can become toxic! 

Drs. John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman have invested their professional life enriching relationships. After a survey of 40,000 marriages this is their conclusion:  
“The No. 1 phrase in successful relationships: ‘Thank you’ A thriving relationship requires an enthusiastic culture of appreciation, where we’re as good at noticing the things our partners are doing right as we are at noticing what they’re doing wrong. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of only seeing what your partner is not doing. You develop a narrative where you’re the one putting in all the effort, and you start to believe it’s true.” 

When I read that article it rang true to me. I also saw an application to our relationship with God. Our prayers can turn into gripe sessions, whining about the things we do not like, the ways that we feel God is failing us.  When that happens to us, our faith diminishes, our intimacy with our Father in Heaven reduced.

Remember the stories of the Exodus? God led Israel out of Egypt. He fed them, protected them, was present in the cloud by day and fire by night. With no sense of irony, the former slaves complained bitterly about the food God provided each morning. “The people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember all the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that we wanted. But now our appetites are gone, and day after day we have nothing to eat but this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6, NLT)  Their endless complaints turned into faithlessness, and they eventually refused God’s leadership when it came time to enter the Promised Land. The entire generation died in the wilderness because of that disobedience. Let me say it again – a disobedience rooted in a lack of gratitude!

We can pray honest prayers that seek God’s help and relief from pain and/or struggle. He understands our tears and our fears. However, the counsel of the Scripture is that we learn the habit of gratitude, living a life that has a foundation of faith supported by real worship and praise!  

Do a search in the Psalms using the word “praise.” You will find dozens of songs like this: “With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death!” (Psalm 86:12-13, NLT) “I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.” (Psalm 34:1-3, NLT)

Jesus encountered 10 men with leprosy one day, an awful disease that turned the leper into an outcast. He healed them and 9 ran off without a word of thanks, but one is a model for us. “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God, I’m healed!” He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:15-17, NLT)  

There is a bit of detail included that we must not miss. The man full of gratitude was a Samaritan, one of those despised by the ‘people of God.’   Those who felt they were “God’s own” failed the test of gratitude.  We can develop such a sense of entitlement that we fail to give thanks, too.

Do you want to know richer worship? Do you want to enjoy a more intimate prayer life? Do you want your life to be richer with peace and contentment?  The KEY is true gratitude, a learned habit of thankfulness that becomes as natural as taking a breath.

Our word from the Word is a simple directive. Lord, help us to live it out.
“Always be joyful. Keep on praying.
No matter what happens, always be thankful,

for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

We may not always be thankful for what happens in our lives, but we can be grateful to our God:
for Who He is,
what He has done, and
His promises of life eternal. Amen.

(Video of this blog at this link)


Goodness Of God

I love You Lord
Oh Your mercy never fails me
All my days
I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
I will sing of the goodness of God

All my life You have been faithful
All my life You have been so so good
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God

I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In darkest night
You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a father
I’ve known You as a friend
I have lived in the goodness of God

Your goodness is running after
It’s running after me
Your goodness is running after
It’s running after me
With my life laid down
I’m surrendered now
I give You everything
Your goodness is running after
It’s running after me

Ben Fielding | Brian Johnson | Ed Cash | Jason Ingram | Jenn Johnson
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