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Gratitude is a Choice

Have you noticed that most things in life worth doing are not done easily?

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. . . . I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

It’s not easy to get a college degree. It’s not easy to develop and maintain a healthy marriage. It’s not easy to raise children. It’s not easy to keep that job. It’s not always easy . . . to give thanks.

Sometimes the clouds cover the sun, but we choose to give thanks anyway. Sometimes chaos overwhelms peace, but we choose to give thanks anyway. Sometimes pain overpowers comfort, but we choose to give thanks anyway.

Gratitude is a choice we make, as are all the virtues. Love is an act of the will. Joy is an act of the will. Peace is an act of the will. Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all choices we make in spite of the world around us and the feelings inside us (Galatians 5:22-23).

I choose to believe, even when doubts flood my soul. I choose to give thanks, even when my heart doesn’t feel grateful. I choose to worship, even when my voice doesn’t want to sing. I choose to serve our Lord Jesus Christ, even when I would prefer to serve myself.

“Choose you this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

This week of Thanksgiving, let us choose to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Regardless of what you face right now, choose to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).

Gratitude unlocks the door to a heart of contentment, for contentment is never found in abundance alone. Contentment flows from the abundance of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11).

To find contentment, we must first develop grateful hearts.

The choice is yours. I pray you will choose gratitude.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings” (William Arthur Ward).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Taking Away the Crutch of Busyness

I am a man of action. At least I want others to think so. I want to solve problems and fix things in order to get the most affirmation possible to assure my inner being and those I serve that I am a good person. Can you relate?

Do you bustle about wanting people to notice how busy (and important) you are? When someone shares with you how wonderful her last vacation was do you find yourself saying, “Well, that must be nice! I haven’t had a vacation for years! I’m way too busy to take any time off.”

If you feel the need to know everything, fix everything, and be in the middle of everything, that’s not an indicator of self-importance but of insecurity. You need to be needed. You want to be wanted. Cheap Trick used to sing, “I want you to want me. I need you to need me.”

It’s one thing to value others and be valued by them; it’s another thing to use our service, activity, and others’ affirmation to fill a void only God can fill.

Ecclesiastes 9:17 says, “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.” The word “quiet” carries the idea of contented rest or trust. I like that. In a country filled with shouting and the frenetic pace of trying to prove our worth and importance, we need more contented rest and trust.

Charles Spurgeon once identified why we struggle with silence, peace and rest. He wrote, “Quietude, some men cannot abide, because it reveals their inner poverty.” When we take away our crutches of busyness, and our need to fix everything, know everything, and be in the middle of everything, we’re not sure who we are anymore. And it reveals our broken intimacy with God. Spurgeon went on to write,

I am persuaded that most of us think too much of speech, which after all is but the shell of thought. Quiet contemplation, still worship, unuttered rapture . . . rob not your heart of the deep sea joys; miss not the far-down life, by forever babbling among the broken shells and foaming surges of the shore (Lectures to My Students, 51).

There’s a reason why the Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Quiet (contented rest and trust) is a means of God’s grace. We step into quietude, and we step into a deeper walk with God. Our activities are no longer performances to gain approval from others but genuine acts of kindness and service.

You can be free from the tyranny of seeking affirmation to prove your value and worth to others (and yourself). You no longer have to perform. Zach Eswine put it this way:

We have held on to fixing knowing, and being everywhere as fast and as famous as we can, like a toddler who can’t go a day without his blankie. But there comes a time when the toddler must age into wisdom and learn to sleep without it. The first night and day of trying this are detox ugly. But soon, the rest comes and the freedom blesses all in the house (The Imperfect Pastor, 144).

Try that this week. Try not to be a know-it-all, fix-it-all, be-in-the-middle-of-it-all type person. Find your contented rest and trust in the Lord. Practice silence in this age of ear-splitting noise. Be still and know that He is God, and this God of peace wants to lead you beside still waters and restore your soul (Psalm 23:2-3).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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