GRATITUDE, AN INVITATION TO GRACE

When it went went well one day last week, I expected tomorrow to go the same. It didn’t. By the afternoon, my stress level was high. It felt like a planned conspiracy. What could go wrong did. Anxiety replaced peace. I finally stopped in the midst of my dilemma and said, “Thank you.”

As soon as I did, it was as if the pressure built up was released like a popped balloon. I felt lighter. And I became truly thankful for the test. God Himself was behind this difficult day, engineering events to demonstrate to me that I do not after all live circumstantially. I should know that by now. As a child of God who settles in heavenly places, I dare to live above the circumstances rather than under them. Situations do not determine my day–God does. But it took me a while to remember that.

I could either fight it or thank God for it. “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess 5:18). God’s will that day was not that things go smoothly, so I could enjoy an easy day and accomplish much. It was that I learn to express gratitude in the midst of potentially stressful days, so that the praise flows from earth to heaven regardless of what is happening on earth. Certainly a better way to live than to ride the roller coaster of up-and-down emotions depending upon whether or not I am happy with the situation at hand.

“Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s goin’ my way.”

Piece o’ cake. No challenge to live by faith. You don’t need God to be happy on such a day. How about this line? “I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s goin’ south.” Now that takes a different kind of person. Does it describe you? It didn’t me–until the afternoon.

Gratitude closes the door to whining and self-pity. It invites the grace of God, which is to power to be what God wants us to be and to do what God wants us to power. Grace is power. It elevates us to live above the circumstances, and gratitude unlocks the door.

God tests us to see what we are made of. When we flunk tests, they will return. When we pass tests, we don’t care if they do return, because we have learned how to respond. A passed test becomes a testimony. By faith we can not only pass, but it can encourage others to live the same way. I shared last Sunday at Lydia House Church how I was tested and how I passed my test–finally! I hope that my testimony helps my brothers and sisters to pass their tests.

Our first response isn’t always to give thanks–but it can be. The apostle passed a major test when he was cruelly and unjustly beaten up and thrown into prison. So what did he do? He leaned over to Silas and asked, “Do you know any good choruses?” Gratitude in the presence of serious tests releases the power of grace. Then watch God really work!

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