Roy Lessin, Co-founder, DaySpring Cards in his devotional book Meet Me in the Meadow, shares this encounter he had when he was paying his utility bill.
“One day, while paying my electric bill, I decided to thank the company for the service they were providing me. “Thanks for my electricity,” I said, “It’s really quite a bargain for all the benefits I receive.” “What!” said the lady behind the counter, in amazement, “That’s the first time anyone has ever thanked us. All I ever hear around here are complaints.”
Today we live in a world seemingly filled with gripers and complainers. We complain about the government, we gripe about the high cost of groceries and gasoline, we bemoan the current reality that nobody wants to attend church anymore and the NONES are the fastest growing religious affiliation group. We are looking at our glasses as way less than half empty. We have forgotten to focus on what we are thankful for.
It’s a challenge to embrace life with a grateful heart. One of the great indicators of true spirituality is not measured by how many times we go to church, or how many Bible verses you may be able to recite, but it is measured by the degree of gratitude that is in our hearts. Lessin says that when we are ungrateful, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and the joy of the Lord is quenched within us.
Scripture is full of passages that instruct Christians to continually choose to practice an attitude of gratitude.
In Psalm 100:4 we are instructed to enter God’s presence “with Thanksgiving and praise.”
“Consider it pure joy my brothers … be thankful my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”James 1:2-4
How do you access that kind of the courage to keep on trying even in the worst of times?
One way is by learning to choose gratitude rather than resentment.
This is what our Pilgrim forefathers did back in 1621. That little band of Puritans set out on the Mayflower for Virginia, only to get blown off course and finally come to shore hundreds of miles to the north at Cape Cod. For 13 long weeks they bounced around on the rough Atlantic until, at last, they landed at Plymouth. They had hardly established themselves when the cold Massachusetts winter was upon them. They faced that bleak winter without adequate supplies and it wasn’t long until there were more crosses in the cemetery than there were citizens in the community. By April only fifty of the original one hundred and two had survived.
A real discussion arose as to whether those remaining should all give up and go back to the old world, but they decided to stay on and plant one crop – a few acres of corn and barley. When the time for the first anniversary of their landing rolled around, discussion arose as to how it should be observed. Some proposed a Day of Mourning, when attention would be focused on all those who lay in unmarked graves in foreign soil. But the others believed that a Day of Thanksgiving would be more appropriate. After all, fifty of them had survived, they had gathered in a good harvest. The indigenous people had been friendly to them. They decide to focus on what they had going for them, not on what they had lost.
That may very well had been the turning point in the founding of this country! Had those Pilgrims chosen to mourn rather than give thanks to God, they probably would not have found the courage to hold out as they did. Think what this approach to life could do for you.
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