“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever…”
Psalm 136:1 (ESV)
A new year is a great time to start something new, right? I know everyone makes their resolutions, and I used to do the same. I’ve given up making resolutions at the new year, only because I want to avoid the guilt of breaking said resolution only a couple of weeks into the year – why set myself up for disappointment. Instead, there are things I know I need to do, and I will just get up and do them, without having to go through all the drama. I’m running again after a month’s break, I’m cutting back on the soda, and I have restarted my Bible reading plan with the new year – all things that are good to do, but without the extra pressure of attaching “resolution” status to it.
Then along comes my wife.
Usually she’s not one to go in for all the New Year resolutions either – same thing about avoiding self-disappointment – so I thought I was safe. But Christi comes to me with an idea – and with that irresistible twinkle in her eye – saying, “I think we should keep ‘Thanksgiving Journals’ this year.” The idea is that each day you write down something you are thankful for. You don’t share these journals, and they don’t have to be elaborate. You can say you are thankful for air conditioning, or a good night’s sleep, or whatever you can think of that day – only thing is, you can’t repeat yourself.
Being a good husband, I said, “Sure, honey, I’d love to.” What is really interesting is that I had already resolved to do something similar. On our way home from vacation, I started writing “Thank You” cards for all of our Christmas gifts and I thought, “I really ought to do this more often.” Then I read in Alexander Strauch’s book, Leading with Love this quote, “God is verbal, and he created us to be verbal creatures. So in our ministry we must learn to be generous with our words of praise and thanks.” Then my daily devotion led me to the Psalm that’s listed above.
Okay, I get it. Through my wife, through my reading, and through my daily Scripture I think the Holy Spirit is trying to get something through my thick head. In light of all that God has done for me, my only response ought to be one of gratitude and praise. So often I get caught up in the busyness of life and my eyes gaze downward from God’s glory and all I can do is grumble about the stuff I’m going through. But if I would only lift my eyes upward to the goodness and glory of God, who is the giver of every perfect gift, how much lighter would my spirit be, how great the satisfaction my soul would know, how sweet the songs from these lips of mine, how joyful my heart would ever be.
I know it sounds cliché, but it still rings true, we need to develop an attitude of gratitude. Finding something to be thankful for, even in the midst of struggles and setbacks, helps us to stay focused on the blessings and the one who gives the blessings. Purposefully expressing your gratitude toward God, and toward those around you, shares the joy and love of your heart. Love that is not expressed is not really love. Gratitude that is never shared is not really gratitude. The more you express your appreciation and love for others and for God, the more that love and appreciation will grow.
So here’s my challenge to you: Find a way each day to express your thanks, your gratitude, your love to God and to those around you. I guarantee you it will have a multiplying affect in your joy in living.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)