Wednesday, November 25, 2015

When Being Grateful Isn't Easy

Reading scriptures like 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that tell us to “give thanks in all circumstances” is at
face value easy. My family and I know this all too well as it was only two short years ago when we were sleeping on the floor in one room of a family member’s house, crying out to the Lord, struggling to say thank you. Struggling to lift our hands. Struggling to even want to go to church, to pray, or to say much of anything to anyone for fear of having to explain what we believed God was doing.

When trying times come, saying thank you to anyone let alone God can become hard to say.  And if we are honest, for some of us, life has had its toll on us! For others, things just aren’t quite where we would like to be and we are wondering when the breakthrough will take place. And others of us say thank you out of habit. But there’s no root or sincerity backing our thank you. It’s just a religious practice. We say thank you as a protocol, just because, or we know that in doing so we will be blessed or somehow set a part; however, in reality you’re no better off than the person who struggles to say thank you. 

The bottom line is that our country, the United States of America, struggles with gratitude.  Well, let me present it this way. One study found this: “Americans are very grateful and they think gratitude is important—they’re just not very good at expressing it.” The study went on to say that women are more grateful than men, that most people thought that gratitude in our nation was declining, that associating oneself with religion birthed more gratefulness, married people were more grateful than single people and that 18-24 year olds express gratitude the least of all. 

Here’s what’s happening.

We admittedly as people measure gratefulness by what we have. The single person reportedly being not as grateful as a married person or the thought  that 18-24 year olds are ungrateful comes from a tangible place when our “inner gratefulness meter” which measures how grateful we are or are not can’t be based upon anything we have including the people in our lives.

A dear friend and mentor, Dr. Thomas Muhomba, once mentioned this very thing. We had a long conversation, almost debate about the blessings of God.  The conversation was around what the definition of a blessing is.  I began to list examples i.e. someone blessing you with money or a car or healing, etc. And it was then that Dr. Muhomba told this story. He said: "one time, my wife and I were scheduled to go to back home to Africa and it was important that we get there. God knew that we needed to get there.  After weeks of waiting, one day, we came home to thousands of dollars sitting at our door in an envelope. And it was at that time that I thanked God for being God. Because when I’m in Him, certain things are already promised to me. And He promised to take care of me.”

God has promised to take care of you. So even in your worst seasons, God is still caring for you. How do I know? Because you and I are still here! It didn’t kill you, it built you. And if you’re in something now, where the burden is too great to bear, transfer the weight to the one who can carry it. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 

My husband and I made a transfer. And towards the end of the seemingly three long months of sleeping on the floor, we cried out to the Lord. We cried out with a resounding voice in gratefulness. Lord thank you for keeping me! Thank you for keeping our children! Thank you for opening doors! Thank you that we’ve had food to eat! Thank you for family providing a place for us to lay our heads and help us transition! Thank you for my marriage! Thank you for laughter! Thank you for being God! Because we deserve nothing! But you deserve everything!

Now, you begin to open up your mouth and thank and praise God that you’re still here; for His keeping power! Thank Him for the little things! Thank Him for the one bedroom floor that you’re sleeping on! Thank Him for your family! Because even at your worst, God is still taking care of you. Whether you're on the mountain top or the valley low, your praise should remain constant because it's not conditioned upon anything tangible. It’s more than “thank you”. Gratefulness assumes the posture of being indebted and obligated to the one who is sure to fulfill His promises!

No comments:

Post a Comment