Practicing Gratitude and Awakening Joy
Our hearts long for joy, and we seek it out in the most peculiar places. As workers for God’s kingdom living in distant lands, the distractions are just as prevalent as anywhere else. Inwardly we are preoccupied through busyness, mindlessness, addiction and a preoccupation with television, sports, movies, shallow reading, Facebook, ministry, itself, and more. It is near impossible to be attentive to the generous gifts of God that come to us within a day. In our search for joy, we forget the pathway begins with gratitude. It is gratitude that awakes us to the goodness of God and becoming joyful. Brennan Manning writes, “The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness. Gratitude arises from a lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace – as an underserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand. Such recognition and acceptance of the gift is implicitly an acknowledgement of the Giver.”
Much of our serving environments are filled with hardships, trials, spiritual warfare and daily challenges that wear us down and cause us to become cynical, grumbling and eventually ungrateful. Ingratitude produces the fruit of joylessness. Practicing gratitude is a beautiful spiritual discipline that awakens our perspective and helps us to see the goodness of God in everyday life. As I’ve practiced this discipline and worked with many servants of Christ, I’ve seen a lot of peace and joy come where disturbance and sadness were well grounded.
There are many Scriptures that provide a launching point for giving gratitude in specific ways. Psalm 103:1-5 is one of my favorites, and each time I work through it, I’m astounded by it’s relevance for where my heart and life are found in the moment.
Take some time to work through this prayerful offering of gratitude in the exercise provided. I pray you will be led forth into God’s goodness and your heart will be renewed in the joy of the Lord.
By: Chad Hollowell, Director of Field Leadership & Spiritual Formation