Saturday, 3 March 2012

Choosing Gratitude

"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it". (Psalm 118, 24)

This week I finished the Growing In Gratitude 30 day challenge by Revive Our Hearts. I found this a really useful challenge! I began it thinking that I was already pretty grateful for many things in my life, but this challenge has taught me firstly that I am not nearly grateful enough, and that I could do more to show this - both to God, and the people around me, and secondly that it is very easy to take for granted the good things in life, to be complacent, and forget how very lucky I am. I like the way that these 30 day challenges are linked to Scripture, because as well as reminding me to turn to God first for all my needs, it also shows me clearly how Scripture shapes our lives - if we let it.

One of the things that it has really helped me to do is to structure my prayers around gratitude - thanking God for all the good things in my life - the times when He has helped us through a difficult experience, and the times when things have been easier for us than we had hoped for. He sends us so many blessings, every single day - not just for now, but for always.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning". (James 1, 17)

But what about the small things? These are the things I find myself REALLY taking for granted! Just to have a warm place to sleep, good food to eat, water running from our taps, healthcare that's free of charge, being able to read and write and count - so many other things that it is easy to forget are gifts from God.

What are you especially grateful for, today?

Here are a few of the things I've thanked God for this Saturday ...

Our safe journey to and from the supermarket in the fog this morning.

The money that Papa Bear had given me to pay for the shopping - it was more than enough, so I gave the change right back to him for our special plan. We got some very nice food this week - ingredients for all the things I plan to make for our evening meals and more besides, for lunches and breakfasts.

Papa Bear's patient assistance, as always, as we did the shopping, and carried it from the car all the way to our apartment on the third floor. He never grumbles or says that he would rather be doing something else!

Cubby and Little Bear are away at a fellowship weekend for young people, so Papa Bear and I have both been very thankful for the extra time together that this has awarded us today!

We're also very thankful that our cubs arrived safely at the venue, and are surrounded by kind and supportive companions who will be monitoring their welfare, but yet also, we are grateful that they've grown up to be responsible and caring young adults - so we trust them entirely to be safe when away from us.

I've been so glad of the warmer weather we've had just recently which has made such a difference to getting my laundry dry - and to our fuel bill! That's been a big blessing.

I'm glad too for our good health at the moment. We've been through some challenging times in the past, through ill health, but at the moment God is being good to us and all of us are doing great!

Of course, focusing on the good things is easy. We have no problem thanking God for the good things! But the Growing In Gratitude challenge also reminds us that even in trials and difficulties, we can be thankful. Each challenge that God sends us, improves us and makes us grow - become more mature, both emotionally and spiritually. God will never send us more than we can bear ...

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it". (1 Corinthians 10, 13).

And no matter how difficult the trial, through it we will be restored, strengthened and find peace and salvation - what wonderful gifts!

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him
". (James 1, 12).

If we endeavour to live our lives as God instructs us, using the Scriptures as our life's guide book, and seeking to know God through them and in regular prayer and devotion, then soon, our reasons to be grateful will multiply! I'm so glad I've studied this 30 day challenge and worked through it. Now, whenever I feel discontented (I'm not perfect, after all!), I shall remember this passage below, and know that before too long, I'll be grateful again! We must remember - gratitude isn't something that just happens to us. It's something we choose - like joyfulness, humility and love, and we have a duty as God's servants, to make this choice. If we do, the blessings will be abundant!

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him
." (Colossians 3, 15 - 17).