Devotional: Gratitude

Sometimes during the holidays, especially if you’re serving far away from home and all its traditions, it’s easy to count your annoyances a lot more often than your blessings.  But there is truly no weapon more powerful to fight discouragement and frustration than intentional thankfulness.

A little over a year ago, on my tropical island that was not so much like paradise that year, we came up with a little game that we called the “At Least” game.  Whenever one of us would be faced with a really annoying problem (serious illnesses, broken limbs, challenging people, or just cockroaches flying around now and then), one of us would start it with something like:  “At least we’re not crawling through a sewer,” or “At least I still have eyes,” or “At least my fingers are not frostbitten.”  It could get a bit outrageous, but it worked.  Our negative attitudes were broken “at least” for awhile, and we began thinking about the good things, such as our laughter in the middle of the mess.

Taking it to the next level, have you ever tried thanking God when you least feel like it?  At first it’s really hard, but if you hang in there, and it can become one of the most powerful spiritual experiences.  You begin to realize how awesome God is, and how fully capable He is of taking care of you in the middle of the chaos, and your problems don’t seem quite as large.  It’s also like punching Satan in the face while he’s trying to bring you down, and that always feels good.

Philippians 4:6 sums it up well.  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Don’t worry.  If you feel like worrying, tell God about it, and then remember the ways He has already provided for you in the past.  Be intentional about thankfulness, and you might find yourself a little more light-hearted during the holidays.  Or at least you can make up some great worst-case-scenarios while you’re working on it.

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