Every now and again we just need a reminder to be grateful, don't we? When I stop to consider some of the stuff others around me are dealing with, my "issues" pale in comparison. When I stop to consider my "momentary afflictions", the life-long battles some face with disease make my aches and pains look like a vacation. Sometimes we forget the principle of thanksgiving as the scriptures would teach: Give thanks IN everything, not necessarily FOR everything. We don't have to give thanks for the flat tire, but we can give thanks we have roadside service to get it changed!
On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. (Psalm 100 MSG)
It probably goes without saying, but God looks at our responses to what life sends our way. He evaluates these responses - good and bad - because it speaks about what is really in our heart. How we respond is a direct correlation to what the attitude of our heart is. When gratitude is our attitude, the heart is probably pretty well connected with the heart and intention of God! A little gratefulness today actually gets us a stronger connection with God when tomorrow's events will attempt to pull us away! Gratefulness if kind of like a "glue" for our souls - it holds us close to the heart of God in times when everything else would like to pull us away!
Have you ever stopped to consider gratefulness in light of what is in your past? If we are honest, how we view the events of our past often determine how it is we will face the events of our present. If we develop an attitude of gratefulness for those things in our past, often the things in our present are made a little easier to deal with. "Recall" is a powerful tool. How and what we recall is almost always a matter of the amount of gratefulness we have developed toward life's events. How we recall is "tainted" either by any of the emotions of a spirit of fear, anger, distrust, envy, pride, or perhaps joy, peace, praise, and hope. What we recall is often a matter of how well "glued" we are to God's heart. When things don't exactly go as we had hoped or expected, there is no opportunity for any of the negative emotions to guide our spirit of recall when we have "glued" ourselves to the heart of God.
Did you ever stop to consider the value of the past? Most of the time you have heard me say we need to leave the past in the past - especially as it applies to hurts, disappointments, and the like. Yet, the past, if rightly viewed through eyes of gratefulness, is what got us to today. Without the past, there wouldn't be a today! Not everything in my past is worth praising God for - but he lessons learned from even the worst of failures are! I can look back, see his protection, thank him for his provision of grace, and nuzzle up all the closer to him because I recognize those things in my past actually drew me closer to his heart. The same is true for each of you - those things in your past you'd probably rather forget are actually things which brought you to the place of nuzzling up a little closer to God's heart!
In the moment, it is sometimes hard to see God in the midst of the problem. In retrospect, we often can see exactly where it was he was restraining us, holding us up, and keeping us safe. The power of gratefulness comes in recognizing those moments - even if it is after the fact. Gratefulness is a way of honoring God's leadership over our lives. Whenever we do this, we are in the best possible position. If you have ever opened a can of beets, you know there is a very red liquid inside. That liquid has the potential to change what it touches. If you will indulge me, try this the next time you open a can of beets. Take a piece of paper towel - the entire sheet. Put the can of beets, with all its liquid inside a large bowl. Now, put the paper towel into the fluid - just one corner, not the whole sheet. What you will see in time is the influence of the fluid on the paper towel. The longer the towel makes contact with the red fluid, the deeper red the towel becomes, until it is fully saturated with the red substance.
What you have just witnessed is the influence just a little contact can make in the ability to change things in your life. We only need to get a little corner of our hearts close enough to God's heart in order to see the rest of our heart just "sop up" his goodness. Just sayin!