I recently heard a godly man talking about how upset he was when his father passed away. As he thought about all of the plans he and his dad had made for the future, he became bitter and depressed. When the Lord dealt with him about having an unthankful attitude, and refusing to appreciate all of the years he shared with his dad, this man became repentant, and adopted an attitude of gratitude. Joy and peace sprang up in his heart, and he was greatly comforted and consoled.
I knew that hearing this man’s testimony was no accident. My oldest son and his wife were planning on traveling to the East Coast to visit with my husband and me, as well as other family members, for the upcoming Christmas holiday. And I had already begun asking people to pray that I wouldn’t be too depressed when they left and went back to the West Coast. The Lord was clearly dealing with me about my lack of gratitude, and my tendency to feel sorry for myself whenever I focused on my loved ones living so far away. I apologized to the Lord for my unthankfulness, and I asked Him to show me how I could demonstrate my appreciation for all of the good in my life. He led me to some Scriptures that opened my eyes and equipped me for victory in this area.
Colossians 3:15 (AMP) says, “Be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].” The Message Bible puts it this way: “Cultivate thankfulness.” The apostle Paul is referring to a lifestyle of thanksgiving here. It’s a constant mindset or attitude that permeates everything we do, think, say, and feel. And it never quits or fades. Paul says the same thing when he writes: “Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be; be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP) Paul knew that nothing invites the presence and power of God into our lives like praise does. He was undoubtedly familiar with David’s declaration in Psalm 22, which says: “But You are holy, Who inhabit the praises of Israel.” (v.3) When God’s people lift up heartfelt praise to Him, He manifests Himself in extraordinary ways. Unfortunately, grumbling and self-pity have the opposite effect. You can’t feel sorry for yourself, or gripe about something or someone, unless you are pointedly ignoring God’s goodness, mercy, and faithfulness. I heard someone say that self-pity is downright dangerous. That’s because it is actually rooted in pride, self-centeredness, and self-absorption. And it opens the door to the dark forces.
David wrote: “My tongue shall talk of Your righteousness, rightness, and justice, and of [my reasons for] Your praise all the day long.” (Psalm 35:28 AMP) When the Lord showed me this verse, I knew what I had to do. Before, during, and after my loved ones’ visit, I repeatedly lifted my hands to heaven, and gave thanks and praise for everything and everyone that blessed my life in any way. And I constantly expressed my gratitude for every moment I was able to share with my son and his wife. I refused to focus on their departure, which protected me from that awful feeling of dread that I had always experienced in the past. And every time a sad or negative thought or emotion threatened to take hold of me, I found some reason to thank God. This strategy enabled me to truly enjoy my son’s visit, and to be filled with joy and peace the entire time. I once heard a godly man say, “There’s nothing better you can do than to give God thanks even in the most difficult situations.” Now I know firsthand just how true that statement is.
If you are in a painful place today, please know that God wants to show Himself strong on your behalf. And He will do exactly that, if you will begin lifting heartfelt praise to Him for all of the good in your life. Right now, declare with me the words of David that have the power to transform the lives and circumstances of God’s people: “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth (recount and tell aloud) all Your marvelous works and wonderful deeds! I will rejoice in You and be in high spirits; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High!” (Psalm 9:1-2 AMP)
Lord, forgive me for my lack of appreciation. And give me a thankful and grateful heart for who You are, and all You do for me on a regular basis. Guard me from self-pity, complaining, and grumbling, and remind me of what they can cost me. Thank You for teaching me to worship and praise You in ways that will deepen my love for You, and my intimacy with You!