“Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits.” Psalm 103:2
Can you believe we are fast approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020? While normally this time is filled with the anticipation of family gatherings and being so full on turkey that the top button on our pants is not an option, unfortunately many people find their holiday plans are being impacted by the ongoing COVID pandemic.
I think we can all agree this has been quite a year, filled with a myriad of emotions from fear and anxiety to zoom fatigue and virtual burnout in our digital quarantine days… One of the best words to describe this crazy year is with the often-coined term ‘unprecedented’ but what if we defined this year with another word… “gratitude”.
As we stand exhausted from the roller coaster that is 2020, how can we redefine our outlook on what God desires for us in this season? Is there a way to shift our gaze from the confusion to focus on a heart of gratitude? This will require a complete reorientation of our perspective as we stop and reflect on the “things above” with an awareness of the way God is moving in these “unprecedented” times.
When we can’t make sense of a situation or feel overwhelmed by fear, it is a powerful truth to remember that our sovereign God is in control. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” In these verses, we discover a beautiful key to gratitude – perspective. If we hold fast to an eternal perspective, we can better appreciate how God is molding us for his eternal glory in the present difficulties (2 Cor. 4:17).
Another key to gratitude, is to have thankfulness, even for the small things. Some people find success with thanksgiving by starting a gratitude journal and sharing at least three things they’re thankful for every day. In 1 Thess.4:18 we see thankfulness is a command for a way to structure our lives regardless of the situation, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
The last key to living a life of gratitude is praise. By building a foundation of gratitude with Godly perspective and detailed thanksgiving, the outpouring and manifestation of this is a heart of praise! When gratitude is weaved into our lives and thoughts, it is a natural progression to praise God and extol his holy name! Psalm 63:4-5 encourages this truth, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”
While we face the unknowns of COVID and the messiness of life, may our hearts be full of gratitude for who God is and what he has done for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus our savior. Challenge yourself to pause and reflect. Ask God to reveal how he is moving in your life right now. Even when we can’t understand or don’t acknowledge it, God is faithful. May we each be challenged this holiday season to have a heart of gratitude with eternal perspective, thankfulness, and praise on our lips!