Here’s what I am learning:
A grateful heart is a heart that is free.
An ungrateful heart is a heart that is bound.
Gratitude inevitably leads to freedom.
(Quote source here.)
The quote above is the opening paragraph to a daily reading published on November 26, 2020, titled, “Gratitude and Freedom,” on WildAtHeart.org. The following statements are located further down in the reading:
We are called to be thankful in everything. Not for everything, but in everything. And we must be if we are to experience the deep joy that is meant to dwell in the very center of our being. Thankfulness is the key that opens the door to the joy we are meant to walk in.
A grateful heart is a heart that is free. An ungrateful heart is a heart that is bound….
Gratitude is the key, friends. Gratitude unlocks joy. And to be grateful, we need to remember the reason for our gratitude—we are grateful because we have been rescued. (Quote source here.)
Two millennia ago the Apostle Paul made the same declarations. He states the following in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV):
Rejoice always, pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you
in Christ Jesus.
And in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) he states:
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your mind
is in Christ Jesus.
In another devotional published on November 13, 2021, titled, “Being Thankful in ‘All’ Things,” on Crosswalk.com, the author, Debbie McDaniel, states:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I must be honest, sometimes it’s the “all” in that verse that gets me. Most of us can be thankful, for lots of things, at lots of times, but in “all” circumstances? That can be tough.
What about when you find yourself suffering illness, or defeat, or you’re walking through huge loss… what about when a loved one leaves this world too soon and you still can’t see past your tears… or when you’ve been praying for your prodigal loved one to come home and it seems like the prayers are unanswered… what about when you’re discouraged, disillusioned, and struggling with disbelief… or when you’re overwhelmed, overextended, and just fighting being over-stressed… what about when the needs mount high and the way doesn’t look clear… or when people are cruel, life seems unfair, and the enemy’s breathing down your back… what about when the storms come, and the car breaks down, or the air conditioner stops working on a holiday weekend (true story)….
Yes, these are the “all” things that can be hard to find gratitude in, whether it’s huge losses or just life irritations. But God’s word never changes to fit our circumstances. His Truth rises above our circumstance, so that we can too. He doesn’t say give thanks “for it”, but “in it all,” for He knows He’s building more deeply into our lives and character than He could ever build without the hard times.
We’re gaining strength. We’re gaining perseverance. We’re being reminded that true joy is never based on how we feel or our outside situations. We’re understanding that God’s ways are bigger, His thoughts are higher, and we can be assured that He holds us in His hands.
And He is with us.
No matter what you might be facing, the good news is this, you woke up. He’s given us today. And if we’re still here, living and breathing, may our every breath bring honor to Him.
Be assured my friend, you never fight the battles alone. Stay strong. Choose joy. Choose to be grateful in it “all.” For He is building greatness. He’s working things out for good. He hears our prayers, He sees all, and knows all. He has purpose for our pain, and brings hope for our tomorrows…
Grace to you this day. (Quote source here.)
Let her words sink in deep in all the places where we are feeling overwhelmed, burdened, misunderstood, and just plain weary from what life throws our way. Remember that Jesus told his disciples (and that include us today), “…surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), and again in Hebrews 13:5 where it is written, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
And here’s another reminder from the Apostle Paul found in Romans 8:28-30 (NIV):
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
In an article published on June 6, 2013, titled, “Cast your burdens on Jesus because He cares for you,” by Rev. Annie Shear, who at the time of publication was the associate chaplain of Cleveland Regional Medical Center and associate pastor of St. Peter Baptist Church, she writes:
Are you tired of wrestling over and over again with the same old concerns? Has it become aggravating to the point it is beginning to weigh you down? 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for us”. Just throw it on him, and let him carry your burdens. Jesus said we could cast all of our cares on him because he cares for us! There is nothing we are going through that we cannot cast on the Lord.
A burden could be described in many ways. Firstly, a burden could be something that causes you lots of worry or hard work. For example, sending a child off to school, while being a single parent, can cause you to stress often. All of a sudden, the business closes and you have no job, nor do you have any other moral source of support. You will begin to question yourself. How am I going to make this work? Worry and stress; just throw those burdens and concerns on Jesus for he cares for you. Let God handle that situation, which will soon send you favor.
Secondly, a burden can be a heavy load that is difficult to carry mentally and physically; the sickness of someone that you truly love or maybe you yourself. That sickness could be one that is incurable. While watching a love one suffer it could be more than you can bear. Those cares are what the Lord wants you to cast on him.
In 1 Peter 5:7, these words were written to the suffering saints in the early church who were experiencing intense suffering and extreme persecution; not because they were doing anything wrong, but because they were living out their faith in humility and righteousness. Peter wanted them to know that no matter what you are going through, all of your worries and anxieties can be thrown on the Lord, because he cares for us. David encouraged the same type of commitment in Psalm 55:22 when he said, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
If your past hurts, disappointments, and/or mistreatments hinder your ability to trust your precious Father, please take the time to get to know a God you can cast your burden on. If you don’t know how to get in touch with the Lord, consider a one-on-one bible study with a Christian friend, a church Bible study class, Sunday school, or spiritual Christian counseling. Get to know the loving Lord who you can cast your care on. You will learn to trust the One who loves you far more than anyone ever could. Remember you can come to him as you are, and receive him as he is. So my friend, take everything that is bothering and weighing you down, and cast it on a kind and loving God! Trust me, God cares for the righteous. (Quote source here.)
I’ll end this post with the words of Jesus found at the opening of his parable regarding the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8 which is a reminder for us today, too. Jesus told his disciples this parable to show them they should…
Always pray . . .
And . . .
Not give up . . . .
YouTube Video: “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)” by Matt Redman: