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"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . ."(Matt 28:19)

24 November, 2015

Gratitude is a Discipline

This is the second year that Jeff and I have taken time every evening to write down what we are thankful for. Our journals of gratitude document that for which we give thanks. We find we sleep better when we end every day in gratitude. It is no small task, being grateful. But it is necessary for life and it brings us peace.

So, true confession here.  On Saturday evening, following a wonderful day in the city with soul-mates, we saw Christmas lights and advertisements for black Friday madness in a small shopping center… and I felt angry.  “In this culture, our greed carries us straight from Halloween into black Friday, completely leaving out gratitude and Thanksgiving. That’s just wrong,” I huffed to Jeff.

Later that evening, while watching a sporting event on TV, we sat in great dismay as a commercial touting “Thanksgetting” ran across our screen, seamlessly moving viewers (us included) from Thanksgiving tables to the retail shopping (because getting more stuff is all the “holiday” weekend is about, after all). UGH!

This year, as much as ever, we need our minds set on giving thanks to our Father. The temptations to forsake thanksgiving are heavy upon us. Instead of giving sway to feeling overwhelmed we recount that for which we are thankful. In spite of all that is going wrong in the world near and far we give thanks.

God’s word tells us to give thanks in all things, for it is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18) Believing God’s word to be true, I ask God’s spirit to help me give thanks in all things.

When I am frustrated in traffic (a frequent temptation in Uganda) I choose to thank God that I enjoy freedom to move about at will. I thank God for his love for all the people surrounding me in crowded streets and packed public transport vehicles.

I offer thanks to God for the privilege of loving and being loved, even when my heart is sorrowing terribly in separation from ones I love. The pain I feel when others are hurting gives evidence of love and I thank God for love. I thank God that even when we geographically move a further distance from ones we love we aren’t moving apart. I thank God he helps us stay close across the miles.

I want to connect others to Jesus and I thank him for opportunities engage in relationships with others so that connection can take place. Even when the relationships become challenging, draining, busy, frustrating and/or time-consuming I thank God for the blessing of being in community with others so we can notice him among us.

Frequent entries in our journal include our gratitude for God’s word, for family, for the many people praying for us, for beauty in creation and for our marriage. We thank God for evidence of his faithfulness to us, for his willingness to keep on loving us when we fall and when we fail. We offer thanks in response to his transformative work in our lives and in those with whom we share life.

We choose gratitude as it opens us to see the glory of God, and then we proclaim his glory. We give thanks because it is the best right choice. Gratitude opens our hearts to God. It positions us to notice his active Presence. Thankfulness opens our spirits to God’s glory and powers our worship. For this and so much more, we give thanks!


What would be frequent entries if you were keeping a journal of gratitude? Maybe you will get some ideas while listening to this song by Josh Groban, “Thankful.” (click here

Christine