A Different Kind of Gratitude


Thank you Holley Gerth for today’s message…

The sky outside is a dense, soaked grey today. It reminds me of earlier this year when my husband and I watched from our living room window as menacing clouds rose up in the distance then stretched their fingers tentatively toward the ground. We live in tornado country and we don’t take such sights lightly. Flipping on the television, we heard the weatherman telling us to find a safe place as he pointed to splotches of red on the map. We went to our designated spot and took a moment to pray as the tree limbs began to sway outside.

The dark masses soon gave way to brilliant blue again. The wind quieted, and we stepped back into the rhythm of our routine. It was not until hours later as I curled up in my cozy bed under a pile of warm blankets that it occurred to me to say “thank you” to God for what didn’t happen that day.

I mentally scrolled through the list of other disasters I’d narrowly missed in life. The bad-news boy I had a huge crush on as a teenager. The suspicious test results that worried the doctor but turned out to be nothing at all. The countless times I’ve asked God to keep my husband safe as he headed out for a bike ride and then watched him walk back through the door sweaty and smiling hours later.

And, yes, I understand that even if the storm wreaks havoc, the unwelcome diagnosis comes, or the heart gets broken we are still to say thanks. I have experienced firsthand the mysterious, hard beauty that can come from tears and ashes. But the place where I seem to most often miss an opportunity to be grateful is when everything turns out fine and I just go on my merry way.

God invites us to say thanks then, too. First, simply because He is worthy of it. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good” (Psalm 106:1). What He prevents in our lives is just as full of gifts as what He allows.

Also, this kind of gratitude can cure so much of our discontent. When I think of how I could be suddenly homeless after a storm, I smile a bit more at the roof over my head and don’t notice that stain in the carpet as much. When I recognize I might be in the hospital instead of sitting in a little coffee shop with my computer, it puts that envy-provoking picture on social media into proper perspective. When I think of all the turns my story could have taken, the rocky patches in the road of my relationships don’t seem quite as much like boulders.

I want to remember to express my appreciation for all that’s right in front of me—many provisions, memories being made, dear friends and family. But I also want to thank God for all that isn’t there, for what could have been if things had gone another way or even if I had always gotten my way.

Yes, gratitude is about what we can see. But I’m learning it’s also about what, thankfully, will never be.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When Discontentment Comes Knocking at Your Door

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

The movers were arriving in less than 10 days, and I still had so much to pack.

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Shipping boxes, wrapping paper and rolls of tape were everywhere. Every room in our house begged for attention, and I didn’t know which direction to go first.

Downsizing wasn’t fun, but it was necessary. With a squeezing economy and company cutbacks, our family made the difficult decision to sell our home and minimize our debt.

Deep inside I knew it was the right choice, but the process was hard. And although I tried to put on a happy face, my heart was aching.

I dragged myself from room to room, pouting every step of the way. I stared at the massive amount of accumulated stuff, and it totally overwhelmed me. Clothes, furniture, linens, accessories … and enough kitchen appliances to open a community diner.

Bulging closets and overflowing dresser drawers reminded me of past shopping sprees where I’d picked up many of the items. And now I was blaming the early-bird door busters and all those neon clearance stickers that lured me in the first place.

I had prided myself on all the money I saved buying everything on sale. Who was I kidding?

The truth was our checking account balance was shrinking, yet I wanted to buy new things. All the while, insisting these were purchases we needed.

But now, all those bargains had to be boxed up, moved and put into storage. My “treasures” had become burdens. As I looked around at all the clutter, I wondered if it was really my heart, not my home, that needed to be de‑cluttered.

It was time to make some major adjustments in my thought life and begin living out today’s verse in Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.”

God spoke to me that day with gentle conviction. It was time to stop making excuses for buying so much and be content with less. A lot less. Kneeling in my storage room, I prayed and asked God to forgive me and help me change. Not just for a season, but as a new way of living.

When the movers arrived, everything was boxed and ready to go. Instead of heading to a storage facility, we delivered most of those boxes to a local children’s home in desperate need of household items and clothing.

It felt freeing to give away more and keep less. To experience the Giver instead of holding on to the material gifts. To trust God’s provision and stop worrying about having enough. To simply be content.

Maybe sometimes you struggle with contentment, too. Do you ever find yourself buying something you really don’t need? I know … it was probably on sale, right?

The cure to discontentment is not found in acquiring more things. It’s found in experiencing more of God’s presence. Remember what He promises in today’s key verse, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Perhaps God is asking you to keep less and give away more. To be content with what you already have and not feel the urge to buy more.

Friend, don’t fall for the lies I did. Trust God will provide what you need when you need it. If you have extra items, consider giving them away to someone else and experience the weightless freedom of being content with less.

Thank you LEAH DIPASCAL for today’s message.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!