By Linda K. Bridges
Halloween and the Elections are over. The next thing on the calendar in the U.S. is THANKSGIVING DAY. But at the beginning of this week, my heart was not entirely willing to go there.
I confess, my spirit has been anything but thankful. In fact, it has been downright whiny–about a lot of things. Today’s meditation comes from my daily scripture readings, and serves as a timely reminder for me to ‘get back’ to a grateful—thankful—heart.
“How good it is to give thanks to you, O LORD, to sing in Your honor, O Most High; to proclaim your constant love every morning and Your faithfulness every night. . .” (Psalm 92:1-2 GNT)
I know you will agree–sooooooo much has happened in our world in the last months.Shocking things! Disappointing things. Even tragic things. Things to make you feel like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster. After the Election Day, I think I finally flat-lined. (Emotionally—that is.) I felt dull. Confused. Pessimistic. Grouchy—and complaining about more than just election results. And I didn’t want to talk to any one. I stayed away from Facebook and Twitter. But after today’s scripture reading, it brought my heart out into the sunshine. I realized that I had been caught up with the ‘minus-factors’—the ‘That-is-just-not-right!-factors.’ I wonder, are you stuck there too? Today I decided to put a stop to this poisonous attitude.
Here’s what I am doing.
I decided to take action by shifting my focus from complaining to genuinely looking for something to be thankful for. It was time to get my heart back into a reverent and thankful place.
This is a bitter-sweet process. Painfully so, because, I realized how little gratitude I have actually acknowledged or expressed to the LORD—or anyone—lately. So I opened my Bible to another of my favorite passages, Psalm 95:1-2.
“Come, let us praise the LORD! Let us sing for joy to God, who protects us! Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and sing joyful songs of praise.”
I winced. I squirmed. I hedged. I tried not to murmur. I reminded myself that I committed to actively turn my thoughts toward being ‘grateful’ and that means being ‘thankful’. Naturally, a flood of other verses came to mind. So, in my heart I said something like this,
“Okay. Okay, LORD. I get it. I will set aside time right now to come into Your Presence—and I will acknowledge with thanksgiving the many things you have done for me, for my family and friends. I am not sure yet about the singing part—does humming count?”
To prepare my heart for this, I searched the internet for quotes and notes and pictures on the topic of Gratitude. (There were thousands! Really!)I even read a number of blogs on this topic. You get the picture. I loved this one below!
“Gratitude begins by acknowledging who God is and what He has done.”
This is where I went wrong. I have been looking too much at people—people in the news, people in my family, people on Facebook and other social media. Naturally, human frailty and sin will evoke the opposite of gratitude.
Gratitude is a heartfelt emotion that is not dependent upon the response of another person. . .
One short article reminded me that gratitude is a heartfelt emotion that is not dependent upon the response of another person, or upon the nature of my circumstances, or upon that which I receive or don’t receive. Ingratitude, on the other hand, begins with a heart that refuses to be satisfied, that rejects the Giver as well as his gift—seeking temporal solutions to spiritual problems. Ouch! I had definitely slipped into that latter phrase.
I jotted six statements in my journal to remind me of what it means to be a grateful person with a thankful heart. I jotted a Scripture beside it, to keep my heart and thoughts rooted in God’s Word. I hope this list will resonate with you, too–helping you to refill your cup with gratitude, too.
- A grateful person is humble and focused on God, (not on the media or on one’s circumstances). The ungrateful heart is focused on self, and its own solutions to life’s circumstances. ( See Colossians 3:1-2; James 4:6,7)
- A grateful person doesn’t take for granted the small and ordinary daily blessings–and sees them as from the hand of the LORD and/or his people. (Philippians 4:4:12-13)
- A grateful person looks for blessings from God, being careful not to overlook the hidden, subtle, indirect gifts from God (James 1:17; 1 Chronicles 16:8-12; Psalm 100:4,5)
- A grateful person remembers that God is the all-wise Giver. (Consider His plan and priorities for your life, being careful not to lose sight of the big picture.) Thank Him, by faith, even in the midst of trials or unpleasant circumstances.(Phil.2:13-16a; James 1:2-5)
- A grateful person acknowledges gratitude to God and others regularly and publicly. Psalm 35: 18 says, “I will give YOU thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” (NKJV) A simple card works, too. Stop taking love and kindness for granted. “I’m thankful for you,” is a sentence worth repeating. (1Thessalonians 1:2-3)
- Take time to record God’s amazing acts, his faithfulness and answers to prayer. I want my children’s children to know that I trusted God in good and bad times—and to know His many blessings in my life.
“Since my youth, O God, You have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, Your might to all who are to come. (Psalm 71:17,18)
Grateful hearts are needed in our dark world.
Already, after this short exercise in pondering a spirit of gratitude, I am refreshed—even smiling. Since I started this article, (on Monday) I even bought and wrote a few ‘Thanksgiving Cards’ and sent them to special people in my life.
Grateful hearts are needed in our dark world. God wants us to “shine like stars in the universe” as we hold out the ‘word of life.” (Philippians 2:14-16) This is impossible to do with an ungrateful spirit and complaining heart. The one with a thankful heart full of praise brings joy to the Father, and glory to his name. That one is also a channel of blessing to others—which is something I really want to be.
I challenge you, faithful and loyal readers, and FB friends, to join me from now till Christmas to think of at least one thing daily for which you can be thankful. Post if for all of us to read. Let’s up our “Gratitude Quotient!” And let it spill out for others to see. “Start each day with a cupful of gratitude!”
I think it will do us good!
Linda is a career missionary and Bible teacher for more than 35 years, having lived on foreign soil in both Austria and Thailand. Through her ministries she has traveled and taught the Bible in more than 20 countries, most recently in Nepal and Ukraine. She is also an author and children’s storybook illustrator and loves painting, writing poetry, and blogging.
Acknowledgement: Many thoughts for this post were influenced by “Gratitude: A Thankful Spirit” Notes from Woman’s Study Bible, page 959.
6 thoughts on “Grateful Spirit–Thankful Heart”
Wonderfully written and communicated Linda. A great word of encouragement and reminder for all of us to start each day with a grateful heart. God is so good to us and so faithful to meet our every need and we do take His love so for granted. But even though we are so easily distracted from having a grateful heart, HE never puts shame on us. His Grace and Mercy are beyond our comprehension. AND:
Thank you so much for including me in your Thanksgiving cards. Your sweet thoughts brought back some very sweet memories of our time and close friendship in Vienna. I love you so much my dear friend and sister. Arlis
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Thank you Arlis for your comments. It was good medicine for me to write this post. AND I hope I can keep my ‘gratitude quotient’ high for the next few weeks and months. YOU are one of those whom God used to bless encourage me so much back in our Vienna days–and still does through your FB posts. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.
Thank you! I really enjoyed reading this! It’s a great reminder for all of us!
Thank you Amy for liking my blog post. It means a lot to me that you took time to comment. Yes, a grateful spirit is hard to maintain, but very worth it in the end. I’m preaching to myself a lot about this very thing. 🙂
Dearest Linda, How are you? I really miss you so much and wonder whether when you return to VN ? I have heared that last week one sister named Linda visited some sisters in Hochiminh City, Is it You, Linda or other Linda? Do you have FaceBook, what is the name on FB? My name on FB is Thanh Khiet Phan, we can contact and call through FB free, when you visit VN, pls let me know and we can see each other. Pls give me the FB name or Sky name, I call you and talk more with you,
Miss & Love you so much
Grace from VN
Dear Grace, thank you for connecting with me. It is a long time since I have heard from you. I am not planning to come to VN any time soon. The other person named ‘Linda’ might have been Linda Brown, Kevin’s wife. I heard she was there. I miss you women, and the fun we had teaching and learning together. I am Linda K. Bridges on FB. Also I have a small website to connect with people who are interested in children’s storybooks. http://www.lindakbridges.com. I’ll look for you on FB. 🙂