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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Be Grateful

Gratitude is an attitude. It cannot be forced on anyone, nor does it spring naturally from affluence. It grows in the heart as we contemplate God’s goodness and sense how much we owe to His grace. We can be grateful even if our money runs out, our health gives out, and our friends duck out. The apostle Paul had barely two shekels to rub together, he seemed to suffer poor health, and many of his friends deserted him, but he counseled us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Jesus lived a simple life. He was born in a stable and was cradled in a feeding trough. He owned no property, walked almost everywhere, had only one item of clothing when He died, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Yet, throughout His life, He demonstrated a grateful attitude. Before miraculously dividing five bread rolls and two tiny fish and feeding 5,000 hungry people with them, He gave thanks (John 6:11). After 70 disciples returned from a preaching tour, Jesus again gave thanks (Luke 10:17-21). He gave thanks for answered prayer at the raising of Lazarus (John 11:41, and later gave thanks when He ate the Passover meal with His disciples (Matt. 26:27).

Even when our circumstances seem bleak, we can maintain a grateful attitude by focusing our thoughts on God’s favor. As we remember His past blessings to us and count our present ones, we realize how kind He is. Our troubles seem as small as a molehill when we lay them against the mountain of blessings God has piled into our lives. King David encountered numerous struggles as hardships. Yet he wrote: “Your love is ever before me” (Psalm 26:3). His attention was riveted not on his troubles but on the Lord’s favor. So he would praise the Lord and tell of all His wonderful deeds (v. 7).

The author of the following poem understood that trials dim as we focus on God’s blessings.

“When you have truly thanked your God
For every blessing sent,
But little time will then remain
For murmur or lament.”

—From The Master’s Plan for You by Jim Dyet. ©2002, The Amy Foundation, Lansing, Michigan

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