This month, my husband and I had a huge car repair bill and a big renewal fee for my real estate license, both due in the same week, on top of our regular monthly expenses. We are both in commission-based sales jobs, which definitely has its perks. However, we never quite know when our next paycheck will come and how much it will be for, and it is easy to let our cashflow situation become a point of stress, anxiety, and frustration. As I swiped my Visa card through the machine for both payments, I caught myself slipping into a “woe-is-me” mindset and my day quickly spiraled into discouragement from there.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find a heart of gratitude is hard to come by in the daily grind of life, in the mundane and the ordinary. Some days it comes more naturally for me to count up the trials, but it is especially easy when I am in the midst of one! One negative experience, comment or thought recalled to mind can quickly wipe out a heart of gratitude for all of the other blessings in my life, and within seconds I can go from joyful to despairing. Allowing one anxious thought into the mix and dwelling on it is a sure way for me to have a bad day.
The words we speak into our own lives, the words we speak to others, and most importantly the words we speak unto the Lord are a display of the state of our heart. So what words are we speaking in the midst of trials and potentially challenging circumstances? Are we speaking truth to ourselves and others from God’s Word, recognizing our blessings, and then praising Him? Or are we allowing ourselves to spiral in negativity, not guarding ourselves from the attacks of the enemy? Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10 ESV). When we turn our hearts to express praise to God, we are being obedient to His Word and can experience the abundance found in Christ, no matter what the circumstance.
Do you want to hear something amazing? While our Ford was in the shop for repairs, my husband discovered a significant amount of air had escaped from the tires of our Jeep. He decided to drive it over to the mechanic’s shop to fill them up and check on the repairs to the Ford. While there, he ran into an old friend who had been considering doing some business with my husband five years earlier and after their chat, decided to meet with my husband to discuss it further. It was an answer to our prayers, and my husband would perhaps never have met this man if our car hadn’t have been in for repairs that day. And though my real-estate licensing fee is expensive, it allows me to earn a living, meet many people and minister the love of Christ to them. So we are counting up the blessings that came out of those two Visa transactions and choosing to praise God.
Without a grateful heart there is no thanksgiving. One must lead us to the other. Gratitude is recognition; thanksgiving is expression. We must first take the time to recognize our blessings, and then what can follow is the expression of our thanks – our praise to God. His Word reminds us to “…be thankful … whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of The Lord … giving thanks…” (Col. 3:15, 17 ESV emphasis added). We must first be thankful, and then give thanks.
Gratitude to God is the surest way to experience lasting joy through any challenging circumstance. Consciously bringing to mind even one thing I am thankful for – and praising God for it – can very quickly eliminate a begrudging heart or a weighed-down mind. We must “…continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving…” (Col. 4:2 ESV).
The time for Thanksgiving here in Canada is just a few weeks away, and Scripture is constantly commanding us to give thanks. It’s not reserved for one time of year, but for each and every day. This is such a good challenge for my heart, and such an amazing way to experience the joy of this life to be found in Christ.