I knew a young woman some years ago, who was just married to her dream man. And she had a tiny cottage with a huge oak tree. She decorated and painted and imagined and arranged and she made that modest cottage just lovely.
But she had a problem. She was miserable. She was not content with her life, perfect as it was. She said to me several times with anguish of guilt, “I am supposed to have a meek and quiet sprit and I don’t!” I said to her, “Ask for it. That must come from God.”
When we are unhappy with life, most of us blame people and circumstances. We equate ‘happiness’ with having everything to our liking. John wrote about this recently. We really believe we deserve that life should make us happy, and not that we are responsible to find to the way to joy – joie de vivre. We tolerate unhappiness as real, we accept that life and God have cheated us. It never occurs to us that we cheat life and God.
But my friend knew her unhappiness was sin. She was blessed. How could she be unhappy? Since she dealt with her discontent as wrong, she could only pray. And this she did with fervor!
Gratitude Isn’t Human
As the years passed, my young friend settled into life and family. And she grew more content with life as it was. She became a skilled businesswoman, learning God’s wisdom in the world while not ‘of it.’ She had busy, athletic, smart kids. And an active husband…who was a good partner and father.
And she loved her life with unending gratitude to God. It wasn’t an easy life, I knew her gravestones: death to Riches, here died Optimism, there is buried I-want-my-way, this tombstone is Anger toward injustice. Serious Troubles took her to a number of funerals.
Her favorite saying remained, “I love my life. What could be better?” And since I knew her life of many sorrows and cruel disappointments, I could marvel that in spite of all, she was effusive, that she “adored” her situation. The people in her life were precious and dear. She so praised her God for her joyful life of hard work! And this amazing thing: she wouldn’t want anything changed.
She is not natural and her gratitude is not human. Human nature is essentially just ungrateful, unhappy, unsatisfied and unwilling to BE satisfied. You can try to be grateful. You can grit your teeth and determine to be grateful on Monday but by Friday you have forgotten your vow.
What this unnatural woman has is a spiritual gift wrought out by intense prayer. God answered her cry with Christ Himself, He whose satisfaction and joy was evident. Because her thankfulness is a gift of grace, it is ever growing. Actually her gratitude is the formation of Christ Himself, within her. And that gift is unassailable and inexhaustible…because it is only Jesus’ gratitude.
Gratitude is Chosen
Watching her has helped me solve my own shameful ingratitude. I knew her in those young days of us all, when “nothing is ever enough.” I know where she came from and to Whom she turned.
I can give thanks to God by my sheer choice of will. And that really does open the heavens. I can overflow with praise and gratitude at times. But I am speaking here of a life that breathes thanksgiving to God, a mind of unending gratefulness, and that is Christ alone!
So I see that my efforts to be thankful – because I am commanded to give thanks – are futile, not to mention failing, unless I look to Christ for the Life that breathes worship and joy. His very nature pours thanksgiving on His good Father. And that Life is mine within if I will need His holy delight to displace my petulant self.
The Holy Spirit assures us that all humanity knows this: there is a Magnificent God and He is good. That is visible and clear to all. We are without excuse. Knowing that God IS beautiful and powerful, we can do nothing less than give Him thanks for all…
Romans 1:20-21 (ESV)
For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
So they are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
There are only two things in the New Testament that are basic to spiritual purity, only two issues that secure a life with God’s presence and His pleasure.
- To recognize that God IS God and more…He is beautiful and magnificent. All Creation shouts His glory.
- To give Him thanks.
How to gain this gratitude?
Abhor your selfish-self in prayer. Cry out for the desire to live fully the Life of Christ…in full gratitude,
the Only Life that ever truly and always ‘honored and thanked’ God.
I felt like the woman in the photograph here while I read this. Like warm sunshine shining on me. I think it is The Father’s pleasure. I read this morning, just before reading this, “…in generations past, He permitted all the nations to walk in their own ways: yet He did not neglect to leave some witness of Himself, for He did you good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with nourishment and happiness.” – Acts 14: 16,17. I told my son yesterday that I am astounded by God’s abundant goodness, every time I… Read more »
This simple “how to” at the end, Martha, is so good, because it takes ‘me’ out of it, apart from crying out for “the formation of Christ Himself, within.” “. . . this is the will of God IN CHRIST JESUS concerning you.” – Truly not human; in Chist alone. Thank you, Martha.
“I can overflow with praise and gratitude at times. But I am speaking here of a life that breathes thanksgiving to God, a mind of unending gratefulness, and that is Christ alone!” Yes, Christ alone!
Hence the practical importance of these words” Looking unto Jesus”. He alone is …… All!!!
This was a delight to read today! It refreshed me and reminded me of how wonderful it is to just be ME, I guess just like your young friend had to choose to be herself! Thank you 🙂
Well, Martha. So thankful for your attitude here and the sweep work of cleansing these words bring about. I notice the cleansing of my own spirit just by reading. I guess that other woman is your Real Yourself… 🙂
OH you have blessed my soul, and all that is within me BLESSES HIS HOLY NAME. Precious HOLY word and “heights unknown” May it be with me also ” to live fully the Life of Christ…in full gratitude,”