Be Today we are on Chapter Four in our ongoing study of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy. (All Bible verses in ESV, unless noted.)
Have you ever faced such difficult circumstances that you felt being grateful was an impossible choice? Mrs. Wolgemuth begins this chapter on why we should choose gratitude in every situation, regardless of how difficult, with an interesting story from the diary of well known eighteenth-century Puritan preacher and Bible commentary writer Matthew Henry.
While living in London, Matthew Henry was accosted and his wallet taken. Knowing that it was his duty to give thanks in everything, he meditated on this incident and recorded the following:
“Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
No matter what situation we are currently walking through, there is ALWAYS something we can thank God for in the midst of it. To quote our author, “the person who has chosen to make gratitude his or her mind-set can view anything – anything! – through the eyes of thankfulness.
Whether you are “grieving a loss that never settles far from your conscious thoughts,” or “crying yourself to sleep at night over a situation with a son or daughter that is beyond your ability to control,” it’s still possible to give thanks. “Maybe you’re facing some health issues of your own, or your income just isn’t meeting your monthly expenses,” you can still choose to be grateful. Even if all of these or some other overwhelming problem is causing you to struggle, an attitude of gratitude is still possible.
But learning to do this may not happen overnight.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says, “The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment; it is the fruit of a thousand choices. It is a godly habit and pattern that over time becomes a new muscle in our spiritual makeup.”
But in such bothersome circumstances, why should I choose to give thanks? What will I gain by doing so? In this chapter, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth lists eight positive benefits of expressing gratitude in even the most painful situations (with one Scripture and a short quote from the chapter on each benefit).
GRATITUDE IS A MATTER OF OBEDIENCE
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
“Be thankful. God has commanded it – for our good and for His glory.”
GRATITUDE DRAWS US CLOSE TO GOD
We are called to “enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4).
Or as Nancy puts it, “Thanksgiving puts us in God’s living room. It paves the way into His presence.”
GRATITUDE IS A SURE PATH TO PEACE
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
“To put it even more simply: In every situation … prayer + thanksgiving = peace.”
GRATITUDE IS A GAUGE OF THE HEART
“Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.” (Psalms 140:13)
“The only people who can sustain a consistent flow of thanksgiving between them and God are those who know who, what, and where they’d be if He hadn’t intervened and saved them from themselves.”
GRATITUDE IS THE WILL OF GOD
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“In other words, you may find yourself a lot closer to hearing God’s heart on a certain time-sensitive matter, not by making pro- and con-lists or anguishing between multiple options, but simply by doing what you already know to be His will.”
GRATITUDE IS AN EVIDENCE OF BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-21)
“Being thankful is a prime example of being filled with the Spirit… The fact is, we cannot whine and complain and be filled with the Spirit at the same time. When a thankful spirit resides in our hearts and expresses itself on our lips, it’s an evidence that the Holy Spirit lives in us, that we are yielding to His control, and that He is producing His gracious fruit in and through our lives.”
GRATITUDE REFLECTS JESUS’ HEART
“And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28)
On four occasions, it is recorded in Scripture that Jesus gave thanks to the Father, probably the most remarkable one within hours of His betrayal, arrest, scourging and crucifixion. As He observed the Passover feast with His disciples, Jesus gave thanks before partaking of the elements, which He fully understood “represented His body and blood, soon to be broken and poured out in horrific fashion for the salvation of sinful man. On a night when from a human perspective He had every reason to be self-absorbed and to give in to self-pity, resentment, or murmuring, He spoke words of thanks to His heavenly Father, words that flowed out of a thankful heart.”
GRATITUDE GETS US READY FOR HEAVEN.
“And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.'” (Revelation 11:17)
“So think of today as a ‘dress rehearsal.’ And do it just the way you will when you’re doing it ‘live’ at the actual performance.”