“For that … I am grateful!”

1.png

Gratitude is not an emotion.  It is a choice.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday.  It is a willful determination. 

Choosing to be utterly grateful and sincerely appreciative should consume more of our lives than a single holiday is able to facilitate.  Thanksgiving should be remembered and honored for more than just a month of the calendar year. 

Thanksgiving should indeed dominate every waking moment of our lives on every day of every year. Being grateful for the life that we have been given should be our first thought in the morning when we awake from that sleeping stupor.   

Counting our blessings should fill every minute of every hour.

Our “Gratitude Lists” should be enormous and never ending.  When one notebook is filled with the blessings of our lives … then we should start another one … and another one … and another one.

Thanksgiving is more fulfilling and delicious than a gourmet meal!

Thanksgiving is more celebratory than a parade marked with colorful balloons and loud marching bands!

 Thanksgiving is more victorious than a championship football game! 

 Thanksgiving is a calling … it is a determination … it is life at its finest.

My friend … you haven’t lived until you have chosen to exhibit extravagant thanksgiving on the worst day of your life!

I don’t know what pain or challenge has marked the days of your calendar in 2018, but let me assure you that each one of us can dig deeply down into the experiences of this year and loudly proclaim, “For that … I am grateful!”

Life is hard at times but there is always … always … something for which to be grateful!

Can you discover the good in the midst of the hard?  Can you see the fingerprint of God in spite of human pain?

I have traded my sorrows for a song of unending gratitude to the Friend Who made me … Who sustains me … and Who loves me.

I refuse to be distracted by disappointments but I choose to be captivated by His power and grace. 

There is always … always … something for which to be grateful! Always!!

2.png

I don’t know what pain or what joy has filled the days of this year, 2018, that will soon be history to all of us, but I hope that your ability to give thanks and to celebrate your many blessings has roared over the circumstances of your life.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns has always been, “We Gather Together”.  Although this song is song traditionally only at Thanksgiving, it was actually not written by the Pilgrims nor was it written specifically for this American holiday. 

This beloved hymn of the church was written in 1597 after Holland had suffered devastating losses in battle to Spain.  Dutch citizens had been weakened by the pervasive and cruel exile of thousands.  In order to help Holland acknowledge their turbulent past yet look ahead to a promising future, the words of this triumphant hymn were penned by a young tax collector, Adrianus Valerius:

 

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;

He chastens and hastens His will to make known.

The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,

Sing praises to His Name, He forgets not his own.

 

Beside us to guide us our God with us joining,

Ordaining, maintaining His Kingdom divine.

So from the beginning the fight we were winning;

Thou, Lord, was at our side, all glory be Thine!



We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,

And pray that Thou still our defender will be.

Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;

Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!


What have you gone through this year?  Has your life been devastated by disappointment and by losses?

Have your joy and hope been taken captive?

I have found that when in a battle, it is the most appropriate time to sing and to sing loudly! 

3.png

Battles do not have the power to diminish the human song of thanksgiving but battles should always fan the flames of honest gratitude and cause the melody triumphant to burst forth in spite of tragedy.

 I pray that you will discover with the pilgrims of old … with Adrianus Valerius … and with me, “So from the beginning the fight we were winning, Thou, Lord, was at our side, all glory be Thine!”

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!  

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!