Living in a State of Gratitude
Let me first start out by saying that for me, “living in a state of gratitude” is not something I am perfect at whatsoever, but it’s a continued work in my heart and mind that has been absolutely worth pursuing.
“Gratitude isn’t a gutting out of thanks, nor is generosity a painful sacrifice. Rather, both come from an overflow of joy. And neither if formed in a vacuum; both must come from recognizing that God’s goodness to us is so extravagant that it must be passed on.”
– Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming
How do we find joy in the midst of our everyday hardships or long-term battles? How do we push past discontentment and lean into joy with a heart of thanksgiving when it seems that so many things in life can be so unfair?
We often prefer to focus on what’s missing, who’s to blame, and where we are ‘behind’. Discontentment started at the very beginning with Adam and Eve; being given everything they ever needed wasn’t enough for them, and rather than resting in what was enough, what was good for them, Satan compels them to the one thing they lack.
“Our fall was, and always has been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”
– Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
But what if we could unveil for ourselves that joy is always, always possible right where we are?
How do we live in a state of gratitude, especially in a culture of “never enough”? We wake up and for many of us, our first thought is that we feel like we haven’t got enough sleep. The first thought that enters our mind is one of scarcity, of ‘not enough’. We’d be kidding ourselves if we could say that we can simply shake our scarcity mindset after cultivating such a thought pattern every morning. You may have often heard this coming phrase in passing, or perhaps in cursive pasted onto home decor, but I believe it is more powerful than we give it credit: “Count your blessings”.
James 1:17 says,
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
And we are to be reminded of just that, every good thing, every beautiful and perfect part of our lives, is from our good God.
My husband Carter and I were recently prompted to let go of something materialistic and very dear to our hearts. And it was only once God had asked me to let this thing go that I realized how tightly I was holding onto it. “But this is SO good! How will we ever be able to be in a situation that could compare to this one…” My husband, in his wisdom and grace, suggested I bring my concerns to the Lord in prayer. I prayed to God. I asked and complained. Then, I felt him gently bring me to Psalm 24:1-2,
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.”
God reminded me that everything is His, and I felt him saying “Sarah, if I have given you this beautiful thing, why do you doubt that there is anything less beautiful in what I have for you after this?”. I know it seems that this story is away from my theme here of gratefulness, but this whole situation helped to humble me into a posture of gratefulness because every good and perfect gift…
Ann Voskamp prompts people to do just this, count our blessings and acknowledge these good gifts in her book One Thousand Gifts”. Voskamp challenges readers to chronicle our gifts in a journey seeing each experience through the eyes of grace. Writing down one thousand gifts and one thousand ways we are grateful may sound exhaustive. “One thousand? How will I think of one thousand?!” is what you may be wondering.
But once I started to think of one or two, God kept reminding me of other beautiful pieces, seemingly simple magnificent gifts from Him that I had never really acknowledged in gratefulness. Each day, when I wrote down my gifts, my heart began to change. I began to see everything through a lens of thanksgiving from roast beef to rent and relationships, from celery on sale to safety, and everything in between.
But friends this isn’t a story about a life-changing book, it’s a story of a life-changing Saviour.
“The counting of all blessings is ultimately summed up in One. All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. Thus Christ is all there is to give thanks for; Christ is all there is to remember. To know how we can count on God, we count graces, but ultimately there is really only One.”
-Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 155
Living in a state of gratitude is living in a state of worship to our good God.
“And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:15-17)
So I challenge you, to take any piece of paper you can find, it doesn’t have to be decorated or themed with orange and yellow, but simply start with:
and go from there.
Let this list of thanksgiving give birth to new joy in our lives, whether you make it to 10 or to 1000; counting our blessings can truly change our lives.