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Finding Gratitude


On Sunday, 11/27/22, Erica spoke to us about giving thanks. I loved what she had to say about the goodness of God, and how it’s better than the greatness of God. And it was fun writing down different things we’re thankful for. Make sure to check out the message here. But something jumped out at me as she was speaking. She talked about the difference between gratitude and thankfulness. Gratitude is how we FEEL; thankfulness is what we DO with how we feel. Hmm. That had never been brought into focus for me before. But it is something powerful to ponder. And here’s the question it raises: What do we do if we don’t FEEL any gratitude? Maybe we’ve all been there. Certainly I have. I have a warm home to sleep in at night, but at times I wasn’t grateful for it. I’ve had good food to eat, but sometimes I didn’t feel any gratitude. I’m married to a wonderful wife, but I didn’t always appreciate her the way I should. I think most Bible teachers would say: Give thanks to God whether you feel gratitude or not. And I would agree. In the Bible, we read about offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalm 116:17) or a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). When God was teaching this to me, I was staying temporarily at a home out in the country next to a farm. Every morning I was awakened at 4 am by the crowing of the neighbor’s rooster. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I knew I needed to offer a sacrifice of praise. So I got out of bed, fell on my knees, and gave thanks for the neighbor’s rooster. (I laugh when I think about it now.) If we want to enter God’s presence, we pave the way with thanksgiving. It was in the passage Erica read to us: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NIV So, yes, we can and should give thanks whether we feel grateful or not. It’s an important habit to cultivate. But I don’t think it stops there. To experience true gratitude, we need to be transformed. And transformation takes place when the real you encounters the real Jesus. That means we need to be honest with God about what’s going on inside. Father in heaven, I know I should be feeling gratitude, but here’s what I’m feeling instead. If those feelings could talk, here’s what they would say. I don’t know what to do about it, so I’m asking You what You want me to know or to do. I’m listening. What do You have for me? In the short term, we might not have a lot of control over what we feel. But in the long term, we do. Here’s why: We have a choice; we can take our negative feelings to Jesus and get His reassuring truth clothed in love, or we can choose to hide our feelings from God. When we bring God into how we experience life, His love for us changes us. We become better people—more at peace, more loving, and much more grateful. Dwight



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