A flat, straight highway, lined with fields, farm yards and an occasional cluster of houses. This is my drive to work. Our hospital stands surrounded by fields of wheat and corn on this beautiful piece of the Canadian prairies.
These days you see a lot more farm machinery on the roads, plodding across fields, kicking up dust, as harvest is well underway. It’s a reminder that summer is over, and winter is coming. We find ourselves drifting between seasons, with the important job of harvest to complete before the snow flies.
As I see the landscape of the fields change, flattened after the combines have done their work, I’m reminded of our harvest season last year, when rain drenched the soil so badly that many fields couldn’t be harvested. They were very literally stuck. (See, what’s success when you’re stuck?)
What a difference a year makes.
And, it's such a blessing to see. A drastic contrast to last year, the sweet relief of a simpler harvest.
But, how would the gratitude of this season be felt, if we didn’t have the last one to compare it to?
The winds of change blow past us, the busyness of the everyday hurries by, and as the reel of life plays before us, our eyes are lose focus, often scanning between to-dos and go-theres. It’s easy not to look back, or to notice the blessings before us.
Gratitude can only experienced when we notice the blessing we have received.
In the small and in the big
During our time in Africa, travel was usually precarious: some dirt roads were almost impassable, public transit drove wildly on the highway, vehicles breakdown and accidents happen.
It was a tradition at the guesthouse for everyone to come out and pray over anyone who was packed up and leaving, to cover them with prayers of safety and protection.
When was the last time I prayed for my drive?
I’m reminded that I miss the small blessings, my safe return from a drive to the city, or even from work. When a car accident happens, and there's minimal damage, it brings gratitude much closer to the forefront, in a big way.
"Giving thanks in everything-prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ." -Ann Voskamp
Scripture prompts us to “give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus“ (1 Thess 5:18) and, “let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name” (Heb 13:15).
With this instruction for our abiding life, we may search for a starting point, and the Gospel is it.
Here's how to grow a thankful heart by rooting ourselves in the Gospel.
Thankful that we are created remarkably and wonderfully
What a way to begin our thanks by praising God for who we are. For most women, this might bring up insecurities and doubts, but Scripture teaches us that we have been “remarkably and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14).
It’s to God’s glory that He made each of us unique, with our own passions, gifts and abilities, to glorify Him in whatever we do, and for the good of others as we serve those around us.
We give thanks to Him, that we are created in His image, and that we are purposed for relationship and intimacy with Him.
Father God, we praise you because we are wonderfully created by the work of Your hands, to live a life of purpose to glorify your name and serve others. Give us grace today to hold onto this truth, even as we look in the mirror, plagued with doubt and insecurity. For the glory of Your name, help us walk in step with You today.
Thankful for His faithfulness
Lost and entrenched in sin, after the fall in Genesis 2, God has shown us grace and mercy, that even “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 3:23).
Do you have people in your life who are difficult to love? There are so many times personalities don’t jive, perspectives clash, and this happens at home, at work and in the church. We put up walls against people, we hold ourselves back from confession and reconciliation at times. But praise the Lord, this is not how He loves us.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even while we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together which Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:4-5).
Yes we are saved, not by anything we have done, but by all that He has done. While we continue to battle the world, the flesh and the devil, we depend completely on the faithfulness of God, and the grace He has given us. What an amazing love He shows us.
Father God, we praise you for your faithfulness to us in our sin, that in Your great love, You made a way for us to be saved. We thank you that this is not from us, but from You alone. May this truth bring us great peace, as we fall short of your glory again today. Give us courage to confess and repent, and to depend on You for what we cannot do for ourselves.
Thankful for an amazing rescue
We are grateful because we have been rescued!
The Hebrew word for thanks is yadah which translates as “praise,” “give thanks,” and “confess.” The first time this word is used is in 2 Samuel 22:50, at the end of David’s song of thanksgiving.
David was the master of praise and worship, so it doesn’t seem a surprise that he would be the first one to use it. What’s interesting is that this song was written “on the day the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul” (2Sam 22:1).
Yes, the first time Scripture uses the words “thanks” is in the context of rescue. This reminds us that the Word of God is a whole story, it is woven together along the theme of the Gospel. God has rescued and continues rescuing, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, just as He planned from the beginning.
As we reflect on the beautiful truth of our rescue, we cry out “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57).
Jesus, we praise you and thank you for rescuing us. That you have taken us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into Your kingdom of life. You are the One who graciously gives us the gift of salvation, we confess that we try to earn it by our works. Remind us today of your love for us and of your grace, that we can rest in your gift to us.
Thankful for the One who reigns.
This harvest season has been simpler. Things have gone more as planned. Were we still thankful when we were stuck?
It's harder to count our blessings when life is hard and we are struggling. Climbing out of despair and depression is no easy feat. Yet, the one who holds the world in His hands is still holding you. His grace and mercy is never far, we just have to reach for it, believing the truth that He is right there with us.
The book of Revelation points us to the truth that our God is "worthy to receive glory and honour and power" because He has "created all things and because of [His] will they exist and were created" (Rev 4:11).
He has a will and a purpose, even when we don't understand what it is. He alone is worthy, and one day He will return and He will establish His kingdom.
“We thank You, Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign” (Rev 11:17).
Lord Jesus, we look to Your coming kingdom with eagerness. We praise You because You have a plan and purpose even in this day. We know that You alone are worthy and as we worship You in this day, let us see what is wrong with the world and remember all the You will make right.
As we move toward a season of thanksgiving, we may be struggling with where to start. Last year we were stuck, this year we aren't, but there's a whole pile of other stresses and struggles as we navigate 2020.
Looking to the Word, to the Giver of all good things, guides our thoughts and our hearts toward the one thing that really matters, the Gospel. May our thankfulness be deeply rooted there, for it will never be a lost offering.
“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it” -AW Tozer
Where do you struggle to give thanks today? How can the Gospel encourage your heart?