A Choice in Gratitude
The piece of chocolate cake or the sprinkle donut or that piece of deep dish pizza that’s sitting there in front of you saying “you know you want to eat me” is making your mouth drool, but you know deep down, you probably shouldn’t. Or maybe you have a health condition that doesn’t allow you to indulge in things that I personally would want to eat everyday if I could. Are there days that you desire so much to have something that you know you shouldn’t have or you can’t have? The battle can be tough.
Choosing to be thankful for the crisp delicious apple on your desk when all you want is chocolate can be hard sometimes. Yet, the moment we fully appreciate that apple and take our first sweet juicy bite, we are typically satisfied and the piece of chocolate isn’t so tempting any longer.
With my birthday a handful of days away I’ve been reflecting on this past year and realizing I have so much to be grateful for, but there’s still a tiny piece of me that struggles with things I didn’t get accomplished or goals not met or time that was not well spent. It’s the same thing every year. Do any of us really accomplish all we want out of our lives or am I the only failure? Regardless of how much that tiny piece of me bothers me, I choose gratitude. Why? God has commanded us to be thankful, for our good and His glory.
Gratitude is a matter of obedience. There are days when I don’t feel like being thankful while driving to work after being up most of the night or being thankful for the job I have b/c I really just want to be at home with my boys or being thankful that I’m still walking but in so much pain, but that’s not the point. He’s commanded me to be thankful and as I learn to have gratitude then it draws me closer to Him. And that is my ultimate goal each day; to be near to Him, to feel Him, to know Him better. The bible is pretty clear in telling us that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). He lives in the place of praise and if I want to be where He is, then I need to go where he resides.
Lately, as my disability continues to remind me that it’s there, that I need to stop ignoring it and stop trying to live like it’s not a part of who I am, I’m less and less grateful for its existence upon my life. The whole premise of this blog was to encourage you to be grateful for your imperfections like I’m grateful for my Spina Bifida, no matter what. I know those days are hard and some days are even harder than just the standard hard ones. Knowing that my physical imperfection restricts me from so many things is so frustrating. I look at my life and realize that some things that I want, like to be pregnant with another sweet baby, are just not possible for me anymore. It’s infuriating some days and it’s just not fair. Where is my peace?
If we were sitting across the table from each other, you could tell me what’s stealing your peace right now without having to think hard. You may be grieving a loss that never settles far from your conscious thoughts. You may be crying yourself to sleep at night over a situation that is beyond your ability to control—a failing marriage, a little one undergoing diagnostic medical tests. Maybe you’re facing some health issues of your own, or your income just isn’t meeting your monthly expenses, or your family is in turmoil over some issue.
I know that I can and should pray about these things, but praying is not all I can or should do. Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) There is it again, choosing to be thankful.
To put it even more simply: In every situation … prayer plus thanksgiving equals peace.
When prayer teams up with gratitude, when we open our eyes wide enough to see God’s mercies even in the midst of our pain, and when we exercise faith and give Him thanks even when we can’t see those mercies, He meets us with His indescribable peace. It’s a promise.
Prayer is vital, but to really experience His peace, we must come to Him with gratitude. Hard gratitude. Costly gratitude. The kind that trusts that He is working for our good even in unpleasant circumstances, the kind that overwhelms our troubled hearts and minds with His unexplainable peace.