I’ve started off my first couple of posts by being very honest with all of you. (Honest to the extreme.) Well, surprise, here comes another bluntly-honest post. If you were looking for some sappy, mushy, feel-good post that has no real substance behind it, sorry, but you’re not going to find that here. Read about my take on choosing to be grateful, and how we can get there.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:18
What We Deserve
There are times when I just don’t feel like being grateful. Some days, I get myself in a mood so full of wallowing and self-pity that I struggle to think of even one thing I’m thankful for. Thoughts trickle through my mind such as, “Life is so hard sometimes. Why me? Why can’t I just be content? Why can’t I just stop feeling bad for myself?” I seem to get myself stuck in a rut. I also often feel cheated out of things that I think I “deserve;” things that I’ve somehow convinced myself that I am entitled to. It’s hard to find gratefulness when my heart is so focused on my pity party and all the things that I don’t have. I’ve lived a decent life so far, I must be entitled to at least a few good things and a little bit of happiness, right?
News flash, Abby–you are broken. You are a sinner. You are fallible. You have failed God more times than it’s even possible to count. Day after day of let-downs, and He still hasn’t given up on you. You don’t even deserve the good things that you do already have in your life–not even in the slightest. The only thing you deserve is the very thing that Jesus gave up His life to save you from. Ouch.
When Envy Blinds Us
We always want what others have. It’s inevitable, and it’s a part of our sinful nature. When we’re so focused on what others have, we get blinded from our own blessings by our envy. We get so caught up in comparing the blessings others have received to our own, that we forget how much we’ve been blessed already ourselves. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?
It’s hard to admit, but when someone else already has something I’ve been praying for, sometimes I can’t help but wonder, “Why did God bless them in this way, but not me?” But, who am I to question who God does and doesn’t bless? Like I said before, I don’t deserve anything from God. If He chooses to give me what I’ve asked for, it’s because of His grace, and His grace alone. There’s absolutely nothing that I’ve done to earn it.
Choosing to be Grateful
Okay, so now what? Now that we’ve all come to accept the fact that we’re flawed, sinful, jealous people, how do we ever get beyond it? What can we do on the days that we just can’t seem to get out of our wallowing, ungrateful rut?
First things first, recognize that you are human, and you are going to slip up. You cannot be perfectly content and grateful every single minute of your life. Accept this fact, and don’t feel guilty when you do allow yourself to go back to a place of jealousy or discontentment. It’s part of our sinful nature, and I’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good to make yourself feel bad about it. That, my friends, just makes you slide even deeper into that hole of self-pity.
Next, focus on the good things in your life that you already have. Make a list, write in your journal about them, pray a prayer of praise and gratitude, and remind yourself of all the blessings in your life that you may have made yourself blind to. Choose to turn your focus on these good things. And, even more importantly, choose to rejoice with others in their blessings as well. And if you’re finding this difficult, like I sometimes do, ask for God’s help!
Turn Yours Eyes to What You Can’t See
God is always working. Even if you can’t see Him plain as day, He is working hard behind the scenes in your life. One of my favorite verses, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Caution: I want to reiterate a point I made in my last post–what’s good for you is not always what makes you happy.) Even if you don’t think there’s a whole lot of good in your life right now, you can find gratefulness in knowing that God is working in ways that you can’t even see or imagine yet. A song that comes to mind is “Still” by Hillary Scott. Give it a listen and be encouraged.
I want to end here–with the most important blessing of all. I Corinthians 15:57 says, “Thank God that he gives us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ.” If you still can’t find gratefulness in your heart after all of that, remember that we have already been given the greatest gift. We get to have eternal life because Jesus gave up everything for us! Choose to start your day by remembering this, and I dare you to try to not be grateful.