Get After Grateful
“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).
It’s mid-November. Thanksgiving is at our door and Advent is just behind. Before holiday busyness rushes in, before turkey and tinsel take our time, we can hit pause and give God thanks.
Cultivating gratitude before Thanksgiving is always the goal, but our priorities can easily shift. Decorating, baking, and hunting for gifts can compete with, and, to be honest, sometimes crowd out Christ. But we don’t have to let this happen. A simple exercise of gratitude can slow us down, renew our minds, increase our joy.
You’re familiar with One Thousand Gifts, right? Alongside your to do list, daily name three things you’re thankful for: A cozy blanket, a good book, a favorite fall drink (look for a bowl of buttery popcorn on my list!). Trivial is fine, then push deeper. What makes you grateful, deep-soul grateful? Include happy and sad events -- even grief can usher deep gratitude. Your list could become paragraphs filling several pages. In 2017, our son moved out, our daughter got married, and our son-in-law came into the family. It was a year of profound joy mingled with change, challenge, and loss. That letting-go-kind-of-thanksgiving is a long process. Make your list personal and specific. It’s worth it.
In prayer, on paper, by yourself or with your huddle, pour out your thanks for Jesus, our greatest Delight. Allow yourself to riff on the ways God is revealing his love to you these days. If you’re not seeing it, that’s the main purpose of the list--to help you discover God’s grace toward you. In every season, joy, sorrow, and brief painful discipline--in everything--give thanks. When we don’t feel thankful, we can borrow one girlfriend’s favorite prompt and “get after grateful” (Rach Kincaid). Take the needed effort. Thankfulness is an exercise that doesn’t just happen, we must actively give it: “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
When I give thanks, I name you! Women of Sovereign Grace Church, you fill me with gratitude! Let me list some ways:
For one, you are passionate worshippers. You declare God’s goodness. In faith, you sing your hearts out while experiencing public and private sorrows. I know the Father takes great pleasure in your praise!
You are humble. At the recent Women’s Prayer Retreat I watched you take off your masks. You felt safe enough in Christ and with fellow graced sinners to share your struggles and expose your shame. Together we applied truth and dared to expect renewed hope. We experienced the Father’s love, healing, and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, chains of formerly life dominating sins lay broken.
Ladies, you desire and possess the spiritual gifts you once didn’t think were available today. You stop me in the hall with wildly good news, giddy with stories of miracles, a gift of tongues, spiritual and physical healing, and prophecy. God is moving, giving you open doors to talk of him and you are taking them. You are more natural, confident, and winsome in your witness.
I hear your stories of personal revival. You’ve longed for more intimacy with God. You say for years you’ve tried to be good, tried to get close to God. But we come up short, don’t we? Lately you report finding freedom in admitting you can’t be good enough. You’re learning you’ve got “nothing to prove” and fear of man is losing it’s grip on you. You are destined to be unencumbered, free of guilt, fear, jealousy, loneliness, and regret. You see your old, perceived identity and reject the lies you believed about yourself and God. You increasingly believe and live out your God-given identity.
Those around you notice you’re changing. You are a peculiar people (in the best ways!), rejecting sinful self-indulgent pleasures, desiring holiness, and enjoying God more than anything. You practice spiritual disciplines with an “I get to” instead of “I have to” mindset.
God is healing old wounds in your bodies and emotions. I expect to see more of both. God is freeing, restoring, and doing a new thing in your story. We all love redemption stories. Let’s get talkative about our God, his power and love, our stories.
Girlfriends, you email me when crisis hits, pain is chronic, and grief compounds. We’ve cried together, prayed together in person or over the phone, and continued to wait through seemingly stalled answers. You persevere in faith. When the struggle is relentless and emotions raw, you keep looking to Jesus.
You text prayer requests, encouragement, and verses. You lend ears, tears, and embraces. In prayer, you bear one another’s burdens. You pray certain God hears and cares about all the things. He answers. He is mighty in you. Watch out world!
You ladies love and pursue unity. In conflict you are peacemakers. When sinned against, you recall the forgiveness you’ve been given by God in Christ and you forgive. When convicted by you humbly confess your sin. When hurt, you believe the best and bear with one another. You know you are never unfriended by God, so you reach out to befriend and refriend others. You take seriously the ministry of reconciliation. The loving camaraderie seen among you is so attractive.
You grow more content, not because the world tells you “with age you become comfortable in your own skin,” but because you trust God- his ways, will, and timing. You resist temptation to compare, believe lies, and uncharitably judge others.My list could go on and on. Your acts of service also inspire me. You freely open your homes, tables, and pantries to share out of your bounty and simple means. You are generous, courageous, and take risks. I want to learn from you.
Now that’s quite a gratitude list!
This month, throughout Advent, all year long, let’s all get after cultivating grateful hearts and make our lists. Worship will pour from our mouths, pens, and keyboards in sincere thanks to God. As this habit develops, we will see each other with fresh eyes and grow in love. Thanksgiving joy will be visible in the saints, because of Jesus, Immanuel.
“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” (Ephesians 5:18b-20).
Pam Bloom is a Minneapolis homemaker, happily married for nearly 30 years to her high school crush Jon, mom to two adult children and three teens. She has served in a variety of capacities since her family joined SGC in Y2K.
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