With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. What is it? When should we show it? What does God say about it? How does it change the way we view life? Then I remembered the day I got contact lenses.
See, when I turned forty, suddenly small letters and numbers got smaller. A trip to the ophthalmologist proved that I needed reading glasses. But I had a hard time keeping up with them, so the doctor fitted me with mono-vision contact lenses.
In my left eye I wear a contact lens for close-up and in my right eye I wear a contact lens for distance. And somehow, my brain figures all that out and I can see perfectly.
That is how I view gratitude and grace. With gratitude in one eye and grace in the other, I can see God more clearly. If there is one thing that should cause gratitude to bubble up and spill out of our hearts, it is God’s grace.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).
Notice he didn’t write feel thankful in all circumstances. Instead, he wrote “give thanks in all circumstances.” When I begin to praise God in a difficult situation, even if I don’t feel like it, many times the scales fall from my eyes, and I begin to see glimpses of God’s presence sprinkled on the black backdrop of the situation like diamonds on black velvet.
Gratitude changes the lens through which we see the circumstances in our little slice of time. Sometimes I don’t see God in tragedy, but I still can praise God because I know He is there.
Thanksgiving changes our perspective despite broken dreams, broken relationships, tumultuous circumstances, and unfulfilled longings.
As we praise God for who He is and thank Him for what He’s done, our perspective of Him grows larger and our problems grow smaller. Click & Tweet! As a result, we experience a deeper sense of intimacy with God as the emotional gap between what we know to be true and how we feel at the moment closes.
On many occasions in the Psalms, David complained about his circumstances (Psalms 42; 57; 62). But more often than not, about midway through David’s laments, he begins praising God for who He is and thanking God for what He’s done.
Here’s an example:
In Psalm 42 David cries out, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night (42:3-4 NIV). He is not a happy camper.
Then he has a little talk with himself and says, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (42:5 NIV).
And you know what happens? Suddenly David starts feeling better! Life isn’t so bad after all! His problems grow smaller as his perspective of God grows larger, and he begins to sense God’s presence in the middle of his problem.
Why is that? In the writing of one little Psalm, David shifted from grumbling to gratitude. He didn’t wait until God changed his situation, solved his problem, or made him feel better before he began thanking Him.
I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrases David’s words in psalm 42:5: “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God” (MSG).
Oh friend, when we stop complaining and begin speaking God’s love language of gratitude, our perspective will change as well. We will begin sensing God’s presence in moments of sudden glory through the lens of praise and thanksgiving—glory moments that were there all along, but we just couldn’t see them.
Stop right now, click on comment, and share three things that you are thankful for today.
Dear Lord, I praise Your name. I exalt Your name forever. Even though I may not understand what is going on in my life, I trust that You are good, and Your ways are good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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