Why Am I Not More Grateful?

Near the beginning of a new year, I have been thinking about gratitude. I have been thinking about 

I am so blessed. I have a beautiful wife who I adore, 8 healthy kids, and a job that I love. I am healthy, uncommonly attractive, and even have some discretionary income. 

More than that, I have access to the source of my longings, the God of love, who has redeemed me, made me right with him, and given me a new heart, with the spirit of god, the god of love, with me. 

So, with all these blessings, why aren’t I living this 1 Thessalonians experience of rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances. 

Why do little things derail my gratitude, joy, thankfulness, or rejoicing? I have moments where I think about his abundant blessings and they seem to be overflowing and overwhelming.
Which makes my moments of ingratitude seem even more foolish. They seem even more silly. 

So I have been thinking about what’s off, what's missing, and here are my thoughts. First, 

Gratitude is more of a practice than a response. Don’t get me wrong, gratitude is often a natural response, but more often in my life it feels like a practice that leads to more of a natural response. Practices take discipline, reps, to work the muscle. And just like the beginning of this year so far for me, when we avoid working out, we naturally lose those muscles and it takes time and consistency to build those physical muscles back up, just like our gratitude muscles. Gratitude takes practice. When I feel my gut, it’s a reminder I need to eat healthier. When I am sensing that I need to be more grateful, that I am not feeling as thankful or content, that's just a reminder for me to spend more time practicing or working out the gratitude muscle. There’s lots of ways we can do this. At the beginning of the day, we can say 5 things we are grateful for. We can write them down. We can incorporate them into a breath prayer. We can remember the gospel of grace every day, meditating on what Jesus did and made possible for us, which leads me to my second thought. 

Gratitude leads us into worship. 1 Thessalonians gives us amazing insight here. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. When we reflect on the goodness of God, the only response is rejoicing. The dialogue of prayer brings us into the present worship and communion with our father, and then rooted in his faithfulness, we are able to give thanks in all circumstances. Gratitude looks a lot like worship. When I am meditating on the goodness of God and his love, the natural response is gratitude, which is worship. This can look all kinds of ways, but most all gratitude should lead to worshiping the source of all gifts. That leads me to my last point, that I have been thinking about. And that is my desire to.

Be Grateful in struggles. God is a good and loving God, who knows what's best for me. He is a god who redeems good and bad, and is constantly at work. Therefore, I want to be more grateful for his sovereignty in the moment of the struggle, not just in the blessing. Last night Emily and I were deeply saddened and disappointed in hearing about a poor decision of one of our kids. I believe that God is at work in the good and bad, working to restore and redeem in all circumstances, which is worthy of praise and thanksgiving, leaving the outcome to him. So if he knows what's best, and we can trust him with our lives, I want to be more thankful in all circumstances. When difficulty or struggles happen, I trust he is working. That his timing is best. In difficulty and struggles we can find thankfulness and contentment. This is rooted in trusting God. 

Trust is the bridge between our circumstances and gratitude. 

Because I can’t experience gratitude in all circumstances if I don’t trust that God is a good and loving father, who is sovereign, and always at work. That is why trust allows me to, like Paul says in Thessalonians, rejoice always, and give thanks in all circumstances, trusting that it is God’s will for me in Christ Jesus. 

As I conclude, I want to leave you with a challenge. Let's practice gratitude, thankfulness, and worship in an unfavorable outcome. Think about it. When was the last time you expressed gratitude for something that didn't go your way? Reflecting on moments of apparent disappointment reveals the depth of our trust in God. Let difficulty be a trigger for us to go to our all powerful, all-knowing, all-loving father and find the peace and contentment in knowing that we are his, therefore the difficulty and the outcomes are his as well. 

It's in these situations, our gratitude becomes a tangible expression of faith, acknowledging that God's plans are higher than ours. Paul's teachings on gratitude and contentment remind us that regardless of the outcomes, positive or negative, our hearts can be transformed by the power of this practice, or spiritual rhythm, of gratitude.


New Episodes every Monday!