I’ve been thinking a lot about gratefulness lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not.
Canadian Thanksgiving has already come and gone, but this idea of consistently being grateful has stuck with me. (Yes, I know I live in Britian. I’m still Canadian.)
So often, I get caught up in self-pity. I’m sure you have too. “If only my friends lived closer, if I had a boyfriend/girlfriend, more money, fought less with people I love, then I would be grateful. But I just can’t right now.”
We can have seemingly genuine reasons for not being grateful. “I’m being overworked at my job. People are gossiping about me. I do not feel loved.”
Or our motives can even appear holy. “If only I was more confident leading worship. If only I had more gifts to serve God with. If only I had the support from my Christian community that I need.”
It’s pretty easy to lose our focus. And sometimes, it’s healthy- and even highly biblical- to process these things, to yell them out, to seek advice, to pray. A few examples are Jesus just before his arrest (Matthew 26:36-46), Jesus blessing people who weep (Matthew 5:4), and David’s regular laments in the Psalms (Psalm 44 and Psalm 74 are just two). However, in all of these passages, there is an underlying theme: for God to be praised.
Jesus surrenders himself to his Father before his death.
Matthew 5 tells us that we are blessed to have trials because they show God and his ability to work through our weakness.
David’s Psalms generally start and end with worship, before and after he shares his sorrow with God.
All of this is easy to say and write down on paper, but it is an entirely different thing to live out.
Kevin and Julia Garrat are friends of my family. They were missionaries in China, serving however they could. However, in 2014 they were arrested by the Chinese government under false accusations of being government spies for Canada. Crazy, right? And yet they were not fully released two years.
About a year ago, my family had the Garrats staying with us for a couple nights while they were sharing at a local church about their experience. Two things had stood out to me from that: their absolute faith in the sovereignty of God, and how little they make of their ordeal.
Kevin and Julia would appear to have every right to pity themselves. They were unjustly imprisoned, separated from each other for two years, and had no privacy. By all definition, they should be wallowing in misery over the years they lost.
But as I spent time with these two, I was amazed by how untraumatized they are. They were simply excited to learn and to share with people. They were content. Grateful.
It’s a huge lesson for me to consistently thank God for what I have instead of focusing on what I lack. Even writing this, it’s tempting to think, “I wish I could be grateful…but I’m too weak.” Hilarious Acacia. Hilarious.
I want to live my life in awe of all that I have- starting with the fact that I am saved by God through grace and ending with the literal hundreds of blessings I have each day. Will you join me?
1 You can read a little of the Garrats story here, or read their book, “Two Tears on the Window: An ordinary Canadian couple disappears in China. A true story.”