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The Fruit of Gratitude

What should our response to an emphasis on Giving Thanks be?  Giving more thanks!  Don’t we often talk in the US about how we aren’t grateful enough?  We have to often admit that we are a culture of entitlement and taking advantage and self-endulgence.  Imagine a change in this trend!  How do we discover an attitude shift in our nation except by experiencing the joy of thankful living ourselves?

When we live in community with other believers, we find ourselves thankful more often than just here and there.  We find ourselves thanking God routinely for how generous He has been.  It’s not, however, just a life in community that brings this change.  It has to do with a heart-change, a reprioritizing of our thought life to be about relationship with God, relationship with believers, and relationship with the lost.

In Psalm 77, we watch as the psalmist is troubled and seeking to make sense of trouble, and as he does this, he’s amazed by God’s holiness, His greatness, and His tender care.  May leaders and followers alike in our region be caught off guard by the tender affection of our God and Savior.  May we behold what Christ has done for us to make Himself known to us as our Shepherd (last verse in Psalm 77) and to rescue us from our own Egyptian captivities (Jude – first half of the chapter). May we see God as great and worthy of our full attention, and in that place of submission and joy under God’s watch and provision, find ourselves deeply grateful and joyful and hopeful

Jesus has undergone the suffering and sorrow that we deserve, bearing our grief (Isaiah 53) on that old cursed tree. We move from a life of curse to a life of promised joy both in this life and the next. Where followers of Jesus disagree is on exactly how much promise we get to enjoy in this life. Wait, is that right? If we are believing what God’s Word offers, we have the same amount of PROMISE to enjoy. Where we might disagree is how much joy we can really experience in this life as far as positive circumstances go. Some would like to say that we can plan and realize as much of God’s promises as we have faith for. Others would lean toward saying God will work it out and we just enjoy the ride, but what about when the ride gets real rough and it’s not difficult to question the ride God has us on or if He’s driving our boat well? Are we maybe kind of the captain of our ship and God just gives us wind and material to work with? Are we carried along by a gracious GOD or are we in a deterministic existence that leads us to question God’s goodness, or are we simply put down here to figure it out with the materials God has provided – set it and forget it treatment from God? These are questions we’re tempted to ask maybe too often, but they are natural questions, and not just for apologists to ask.

The Psalmist in Psalm 77 makes a diligent effort of searching God out and seeking to know HIM more than His reasoning for how life works. If we question Him, may it be more in the direction of KNOWING HIM more than His God-level intentions and methods. The more we seek to know GOD HIMSELF, the more we are quiet and in awe and able to trust His intentions. We also become less about material success and earthly prowess for ourselves. We become more calm whether we’re succeeding materially/physically or in a season or lifetime of tragic material/physical failure from a human perspective. God has used entire lifetimes for His followers to show a few other people something about Himself. Does that mean He didn’t cherish the person He used to show other’s His grace? Look at the last verse of Psalm 77. Moses and Aaron were used to show God’s grace to a whole huge group of God’s people. In the first part of the book of Jude, we learn that it is Jesus Himself Who brought His people out of Egypt. Those who did not believe were destroyed, but all who hoped in Jesus through Moses and Aaron’s gentle leadership learned of God’s favor and were kept in the love of God. As Jude so poetically reminds us, we are to keep ourselves in the love of God while all the while being kept in His love by God Himself.

My friends, may we experience the joy of trusting God with our big questions and simply practicing lifestyles that demonstrate our gratitude for leading us like a flock.

May we trust His decisions as far as who He has placed in our lives to lead or to follow. We will experience transformation as we practice contentment and serve. As we do this, we will be able to better understand His intentions to draw us through sorrow and suffering and difficulty into a closer and closer walk with Jesus Himself, entering the promised land of HOPE IN CHRIST. We have an eternal hope in the Person and the Work of Jesus Christ.

Celebrating Christ with you, friends,

– Torey

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