As we quiet our hearts during Lent, we’ll hear from the women of our church on their practice of spiritual disciplines. Every believer is on a transformational journey to grow in our relationship with the Father and become more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our own efforts cannot accomplish this, but we do get to participate in the process. Even though the Bible doesn’t lay out a concise list of spiritual disciplines, the life of Jesus is our powerful example. The spiritual disciplines can usually be organized into two categories: abstinence (giving something up) and action. As we look forward to Easter, let’s see how we can pause certain parts of our lives in order to pursue Christ. Check out our previous posts on Contemplation, Stewardship, Fasting, Confession, Prayer, and Meditation.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Why is gratitude important? As Christians our purpose in this lifetime is to reflect the glory of God. Practicing and living a life of thanksgiving not just on the holiday, but every single day steers us away from self entitlement and allows us to invite others towards the path of righteousness.
I believe that a huge part of practicing this discipline starts with one simple question: How am I responding to the gift of salvation? To me this single question naturally opens a door to many others: My life has been given to me as a gift and I have a purpose, so what is my response to this? How am I going to live my life daily? How am I going to use the wonderful gifts God has handpicked for me? How am I going to love the people that God loves and has placed in my life? How am I going to look at the beautiful world around me that God created?
All that we are, all that we have, and all that surrounds us is such a grand gift. Honestly, I think about all of it and I know that I can never fully repay Jesus for his sacrifice. The very least I can do is have a heart of gratitude, even if this means denying myself, lowering my expectations, waiting for whatever this season of my life needs, and surrendering my life totally and completely to him. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Gratitude flows effortlessly when everything in life is going exactly how we’ve planned. I mean that’s a given, right? But what about when we’re in a rough season? The heart of gratitude and thankfulness should never be based on our circumstances but solely on a person. Nothing turns us into the most bitter human beings like an ungrateful heart. Only a disciplined heart of gratitude can fully restore our contentment. “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” (Psalms 94:19)
John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Even though God let us know that we will go through tribulations, he tells us to be of good cheer which means “shout for joy or in praise.” He goes on to say he has overcome, which indicates victory after death.
As human beings we want answers to every single question instantly: Why do I have to wait? What’s next? Have You forgotten about me? Why now? The questions especially arise while were in great pain and suffering but God is calling us to trust his plan. The world we live in offers temporary peace which eventually fades. True peace can only be found in Jesus Christ and that starts with a heart of gratitude.
I am currently in a season of motherhood, raising two toddlers, and my life has changed tremendously and continuously within the last five years. Spending time in Scripture and strengthening my heart towards a life of gratitude has changed my entire outlook on the journey thus far. Throughout my days, which are mostly repetitive, I’ve gotten into a habit of mentally thanking Jesus for anything that I’m doing at the moment instead of bickering about the mundane daily tasks. This has shifted my entire perspective. For example, when my kids are arguing: “Thank you Lord, they have one another and that I was able to conceive two very different minded human beings.” When I’m cooking three times a day: “Thank you Lord, for providing this meal.” While tucking my antsy children into bed and hearing my oldest daughter’s sometimes lengthy prayer list: “Thank you Lord, for her amazing heart and eagerness to speak to you!”
I work from home, which means I spend almost every single minute with my children. What kind of example would I be if I chose not to practice an attitude of gratitude? The thought is actually very frightening. I practice not only for myself and for them, but because Jesus paid the price and for that I am beyond grateful.