As I publish this blog post this week, I woke up with a headache. I am therefore not feeling particularly cheerful this Saturday morning. Do you ever feel this way in the day to day struggles? Yet gratitude is one of the most important attitudes that we should cultivate.
When I was a family caregiver for my first husband, Wayne, it was difficult to be thankful in the chaos and drama of watching my husband's body deteriorate step by step. Life became so very overwhelming at times. Life as a widow also involved moments of grief and challenge for me. Although happily remarried, life continues to have struggles and challenges. That is the nature of life on this earth.
One of the things that began to help me in this area, I learned as a caregiver for my first husband. The course of action that helped me was to write down a few things each day for which I was thankful like the beauty of flowers, other beauties in creation, or more importantly my salvation and relationship with the Lord. This simple practice did much to open my eyes to the little wonders and love gifts of God which were still in my life. It is a practice I still carry on today. I now often write down things for which I am thankful that day based on the promises I find in the Bible in my morning devotions.
I think gratitude has to go even further than writing down a few things for which I am thankful each day, however. It has to be a heart attitude. In the measure I experience this heart attitude in spite of difficult circumstances, there will be joy and peace.
A few years ago I read a book by Nancy Leigh De Moss called Choosing Gratitude. It is a book I would like to relocate and read again. In one chapter she listed eight reasons for a grateful heart in spite of circumstances. One reason is that gratitude is a matter of obedience. It is commanded by God throughout His Word especially in the Psalms and the New Testament Epistles. Gratitude also draws us closer to God. When we long for a greater sense of God's nearness or life's stresses pile up, gratitude to the Lord is the gateway to the Lord's presence.
Gratitude is the will of God. Choosing it is more important than choices we make about any other of life's decisions. All other life decisions pale in comparison to choosing gratitude. Gratitude is proof of being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is evidence that we are yielding to His control. Gratitude further reflects Jesus' heart. Even the night before Jesus was put on the cross He showed gratitude to the Heavenly Father in His prayers at the Last Supper. He gratefully and willingly submitted to the Father's will in spite of the horrors of the cross just before Him.
Finally, gratitude prepares us for heaven. Think of all the saints in heaven praising God before His throne. My first husband is no longer suffering from his neurological disease, but he is praising God before His throne right now! So are other loved ones who have gone on before me. I too can join in that praise by thanking and praising the Lord now. Life is often difficult. Yet in the measure we thank God in and even for the difficulties peace will follow. Resolve with me to walk that path, dear reader.