Unending Gratitude

Bad news. We hear about it and see it every day in the news. We are surrounded by it every day. Our world doesn't share much good news either. We can't get what we want. We can't get what we need. We have concerns about health and basic living, work and school, finance, and relationships. All of this has taken a toll on our outlook on life and leads to feelings of stress, anxiety, and loneliness.

How do we have a perspective of joy and peace and gratitude in our lives when so much going on around us looks so bleak? Obviously we need to look deeper in our lives to see and experience joy and gratitude, especially when the world around us is not helping.

The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." There are several blessings that we can be grateful for that many in our world don't experience, such as shelter, food, family, friends, even a warm shower. Even life and breath itself is a blessing from God.

Even greater than these are eternal spiritual blessings from God. If we are in Christ, we receive forgiveness of sins, adoption into God's family, and eternal life. He gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us to give us strength and wisdom, peace and hope for each day.

Often we think that only the things that we perceive to be positive are things for which we should be grateful to God. Other Bible writers such as James and Paul tell us that we can have joy, peace, contentment, and give thanks to God even in trials, temptations, and tribulations.

But why would we want to be grateful when such trials come our way? The answer comes from Romans 8:28, that indicates that all things work together for the ultimate good of those who love God according to His purpose.

So often these trials actually help us to grow and mature and become more like Jesus and the person God wants us to be. He helps us to become stronger and gives us a testimony to share with others about the goodness of God even in the valleys. We become more effective in reaching out to others in their difficulties.

For the Christian, we do not have to fear even death itself. Again Paul, in Philippians, says that "to live is Christ and to die is gain." Why does he say this? Because when we die, we are immediately ushered into the presence of Jesus.

We need a new perspective. It is a new perspective that is not conditional on our circumstances alone, but on the grace that God gives us through Jesus and all of the spiritual blessings that go along with it. These blessings come by grace alone. Jesus promises to take your weary burdens and you’ll find rest for your souls. He promises to never leave us or forsake us even in the dark valleys of life. He continues to teach us and mature us to become more like Him. For all of these things we can be grateful.
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Mark Anderson