Last week you were hopefully able to read about the first of the three postures we’re talking about during this Advent season. The first one was The Posture of Generosity. Feel free to check that one out if you missed it.
To recap, I heard a talk given by Danielle Strickland at Exponential Orlando 2018 where she talked about three open-handed postures. I decided to adopt these into my daily prayer and meditation time, and it has dramatically changed my outlook on life.
What is Gratitude?
gratitude = noun [grat-i-tood, -tyood]
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
The words that stick out to me in this definition include “quality” and “readiness.” If gratitude is a “quality of being thankful,” perhaps it’s something that has to be practiced, nurtured, and intentional. When I think of having a “readiness to show” something, I think of eagerness or an urgency to do something. Gratitude, therefore, is an attitude of thankfulness that is cultivated and is consistently ready to be given.
We know that in all situations and circumstances we are to be a thankful people. Psalm 136 explores this in detail stating:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
The entire chapter reads as a resumé of sorts of all of the great things God has done from creation on. I’m sure many of us have read this chapter so many times we think we know it, so we just skip over it. But take a moment and really read the entire chapter. His never-ending, consistent, “steadfast love” lasts forever. Always. Without limitations. Yes!
Take a Moment.
Now, think about your day from the time you woke up this morning. Grab a piece of paper and write down everything from the beginning until now for which you can be grateful. Perhaps you woke up after not sleeping well. But you did wake up, and you have an assurance that “His mercies are new every morning.” Understand that this is not dependent on your feelings. Rather gratitude is a state of being, a choice, a practice.
After you woke up, maybe you said a little prayer of thanks to the Father and had your quiet time. Maybe, like me, you get up and the rush is on to get children ready for school. It may feel like an amusement park in your house–full of noise, maybe crying, sometimes weeping and gnashing of teeth. And then there are the children to deal with. Ha!
The important thing to remember is that in the quiet AND in the chaos, God is the same and our posture of gratitude can be the same as well.
Open Hearts, Open Hands
Last week I walked you through an exercise. I would like to do that again, this time with an open-handed posture of gratitude. So right now, wherever you are, take a moment and look at the palms of your hands. Actually open them up and look at them. Ask God to take what is in your hands–those thoughts, that hurt, the anger, and resentment–those things that cause you to walk tight-fisted. He can and will take them away. Now ask Him to show you all of the little things for which you can be thankful.
In Upstate, SC we’ve had so much rain lately. It can be depressing. But over the last several years, we’ve lived in a drought. Not so much anymore. So I’m so thankful for the rain. Maybe where you are there is snow on the ground and it’s freezing cold. But you have the warmth of your fire or the coziness of blankets and wool socks to give you that feeling of warmth and goodness.
The point here is that you look at every situation and see God’s goodness in it and you express that thankfulness to Him. You live a life of gratitude because the alternative is to live a life of Bah-humbug!
What Will You Choose?
Again, you have the ability to choose here. You can let go of whatever it is that is closing you off, or you can open your hands and heart to a life of gratitude and generosity. Oddly enough, so many of us want to remain entangled by the hurt and the chains. I pray for each person reading this that you will choose a life of freedom!
Stay tuned next week as we learn about the third and final posture of the series.