Looking Back and Looking Forward: Through a Lens of Gratitude:

God Redeems Every Single Thing: You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life. Lamentations 3:58

If you were to tell me back when I was a child what God would do with the remnants of my family dysfunction, I would not have believed you. If you would have told me that it would have led me to being a Pastors wife and Christian therapist, I would have most likely thought that I was not the only one who might have been crazy. But mostly, I would never be able to convey how grateful I would be for learning to give and receive love through the lens of pain. Have you ever wondered what God was up to by allowing you to endure a season or seasons of suffering? What was he attempting to do in you? Think about what being grateful means and looks like with me for a second.

Gratitude defined is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. I loved this part, “Gratitude is essentially the recognition of the unearned increments of value in one’s experience” –Angeles Arrien

Capture a time with me most recently where you experienced true gratitude.

Truth be told, can one truly be grateful if they have not embraced the struggles of our lives feeling less than a gift? It has been difficult for me to understand the nature of being grateful without first considering my challenges or difficulties and how I learned this art of being thankful even when my circumstances and emotions did not line up. Can you relate? Like I expressed above, I never knew while in the midst of a dysfunctional upbringing that God was creating in me a deep desire and compassion to understand and help broken people. So although I have had to walk through my own healing, what the enemy intended to destroy me with, God intended for my good. Where are you at in your journey?  Can you identify how God might be refining you through the pain for your good? I offer a disclaimer that it is not easy but worth it.

We want to be grateful. We hear and are familiar with what gratitude should look like but truth be told we struggle to experience it sometimes. When you envision a good Christian woman, one who is solid in her faith, don’t you automatically think of one of her many qualities as someone who seems grateful? I want so badly to be that woman but in order to do this I need to remember to be grateful in affliction and in the trusting of what He is up to in the midst of challenges. From there, we can learn the art of gratitude from the bottom of our hearts. For me it begins by putting on a garment of praise through the mourning. I have currently been going through a tough time of trusting God through a huge transitional time. Also, there are days, like yourselves, as women in ministry where there does not seem enough of me to go around and this is when I truly need to find gratitude in the midst of my moments. If I seek Him in it, I find it. If I continue on in my own strength, I fail miserably. So then, my challenge to you my sisters is to not grow weary in doing good but to go sit at your Fathers feet today and allow him to fill you back up.

Even in writing this, worship music playing, my heart before Him in the midst of the swirling demands of life and storms, I find Him faithfully there and then I remember that I am grateful. I am grateful simply because I am His and He loves me and He loves you too.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people will never be put to shame. Joel 2:26

~Denise

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