Living Gratitude

      Recently, I spent a week and a half laying on our couch more sick than I have been in over a decade.  I had a nasty flu (not COVID).  It was miserable, but in the midst of it I tried to stay grateful.  The Scripture tells us “to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5;18).  How do we walk out such a seemingly impossible command?  Although challenging, and yes I did whine a bit, here are a few keys to practicing gratitude when it doesn’t feel natural.
      LOOK TO GOD.  Our circumstances change but God does not.  He is always for us, He loves us and He is faithful to us even when we fail.  God is always the best place to fix our gaze.   When a painful situation seems hopeless, remember all the times God has answered prayer in a powerful way—from delivering the Jewish nation from slavery to opening the wombs of various women who desperately wanted a child.   God does not owe us a yes to our prayers, but often gives us a positive answer.  In the person of Jesus, we see a man who walked with gratitude, even when facing deep challenges.  At the last supper Jesus took the bread and gave thanks, while knowing He faced the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter and abandonment by all His friends.   
      LOOK BACK OVER YOUR LIFE.  Yes, you will find hardship, but you will also find many rich, substantial blessings.   Do you own a home?   Are you married?   Do you have children that make you smile?   Have there been moments of kindness from mentors, teachers or your parents?  In general, have you had good health? 
     NOTICE THE LITTLE BLESSINGS.  When I could find the refreshment of sleep, I thanked God for it.  The orange Gatoraid was just so refreshing when little else would stay down.  When I could eat again, adding in the simple foods that I love was a real treat.  Even our dog was sympathetic to my sickness.   
     APPRECIATE WHAT YOU OFTEN TAKE FOR GRANTED.  Because I am generally healthy, health is not something I think much about.  Reflecting, I thought a lot about those who suffer from chronic pain or ongoing medical difficulties.   I know this attitude is hard to maintain but being able to get up and get in the car and go to work is something I was thrilled to do at the end of my illness.      
     APPRECIATE THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.  Work at the church continued to move forward despite my absence because of others who stepped in and covered tasks that were normally mine.  My family put their heads down and filled in gaps that I would typically do.  I am not mature enough to thank God FOR the flu, but I have found ways to give thanks DURING the flu.   Cling to gratitude, keeping your focus on God, no matter what!

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church