Ever noticed it’s the simple stuff that’s often the hardest to do? For instance, a few weeks ago during the World Series I noticed a player (making millions of dollars need I remind you) hit a ground ball and never take his eyes off the ball the entire time he’s running to first base! Focusing on the base and not the ball is a fundamental taught in little league and yet here’s this player (making millions of dollars need I remind you) who ends an inning because he’s taken his eye off the fixed target ahead to focus on something utterly out of his control.
Before we cast too much judgment on this player, we can probably think about a few “simple” things that we’ve been working on for months, perhaps years, and progress is just grueling. As a Christ follower and someone who tries bending my life to the Bible, I often experience the frustration of stumbling over something that I should have mastered by now.
I love Thanksgiving; I really do! Family (dysfunction and all), food, football, what’s not to love? Yet, every year as family members go around the table talking about kids, jobs, and other platitudes there’s something forced and unnatural about it all (unless there’s a dating or newly engaged couple then there goes a hot meal and Lord help us all). Gratitude is one of those simple things, yet Thanksgiving reminds me that while simple, a heart of gratitude is hard to master.
If someone came up to ask if we’d like to be more grateful, we’d likely all say yes. If the conversation around the dinner table on Thanksgiving is any indication, we aspire to be grateful people. How then do we transition from a forced Thanksgiving conversation to a lifestyle of gratitude? The Apostle Paul gives us a plan in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thank you Paul for stating the obvious! Moving on!
I often have those very thoughts when reading this verse but upon further observation there’s some real gold here! Paul’s telling us what God’s will is for our life and it’s to cultivate a heart of gratitude. Apparently, gratitude is a big deal to God! Our goal according to Paul is to work toward a heart of gratitude……wait for it…… in everything. Paul very rarely pulls any punches!
Why would Paul say in everything? Doesn’t he know that loved ones get sick, that people loss jobs, that friends let us down? In everything?
Paul is reminding us that gratitude is more of a discipline than a feeling and yes, even in the bleakest of situations there are reasons to give thanks. It’s up to us on where we will choose to focus. It really is that simple! But if you’re like me and find yourself stumbling over a heart of gratitude remember simple doesn’t mean easy but like all disciplines it can be cultivated. What situation are we wrestling with the most as it pertains to gratitude? We might not have chosen the current situation we’re in but there are always things to be thankful for. It’s up to us where we will choose to focus!
By Craig Rush • Chase Oaks Church Woodbridge Campus Pastor