I dropped into bed one night, feeling the heaviness of the world in the depths of my soul. Not that Jesus asked me to carry such a burdensome load; I’d just decided to pick up the sadness, hopelessness, and frustrations of the world at the end of my day. Not a wise thing to do.
At about 3:00 in the morning, I opened my eyes and remembered that the antidote for heaviness is praise and thanksgiving. At that moment, my heart and mind awakened with defiant joy. I threw off that “garment of heaviness” and thanked God for all that is right in my world. And, even more importantly, for the promise of eternity. Boldness, courage, strength infused me the more I praised Him. I even felt things shift in my physical body. Where before, everything in me braced for impact. But at this moment, I felt my body relax, and my heart opened up to what God might want to speak to me in the night hours.
A little while ago on Faith Radio, we hosted a live stream event called “The Power of a Grateful Life.” Dr. Troy Spurrill and I discussed the physiological and spiritual impact of gratitude. Dr. Troy explained that our bodies do not experience the true benefits of gratitude unless we connect the gift to the giver, and unless we’re willing to truly receive the gift given to us. That’s a powerful, loaded statement. One that deserves some serious thought.
Gratitude is about more than simply counting our blessings or enjoying a few happy, feel-good moments. It’s about strengthening our attachment to our Heavenly Father, who is the Giver of all good things! When we gratefully receive the blessings we enjoy and then connect our gratitude to God who gave us those gifts, we actually strengthen our awareness of God’s involvement in our lives. Consequently, our bodies release those “feel good” hormones that elevate our mood, improve our outlook, and increase our capacity to learn new things.
Instead of just amassing all of our blessings and thinking only of ourselves, we look up and view those blessings as a sign of something greater than our momentary desire, and it’s this: that we are profoundly and deeply loved and cared for by our Creator. The very idea that we are loved and secure in Him will develop contentment and joy that earthly circumstances cannot touch.
If we only focus on the blessings in our lives, it’ll be only a matter of time before we look to the left and to the right and notice that others have some things that we do not. Discontentment will eventually kick in.
I’ve noticed two significant threats to the healing power of a grateful life:
- Discontentment / Entitlement ~ I deserve more than God is giving me at the moment.
- Enemy Threats / Enemy Fears ~ I don’t trust that God will protect me in the future.
Gratitude is our superpower, and the enemy knows it. If he can keep us from being grateful, he’ll then go after our joy. And if he can steal our joy, he can sap our strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Scripture calls us to enter the Lord’s gates with thanksgiving! God knows how potent and powerful our praises are! He wired us for joy, for faith, for hope, and for love. Take some time in the days ahead and consider not only the profound number of blessings in your life but also the One who gave you those blessings. Consider how specifically and uniquely, God loves you. See if it creates within you a deeper assurance that you have everything because you have Jesus.
For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.