July 23, 2014
Getting the Joyless You Unstuck
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup…’ (Luke 22:19-20, NIV emphasis added).
Friend to Friend
When we live a life of intentional gratitude, we begin to frame how we see our circumstances. I put my favorite photos in frames so I can see them often. They bring me joy as I pass through the room. A smiling five-year-old Steven with his brand-new golden retriever puppy. A strong man-child dressed in a graduation cap and gown. A passel of sun-kissed nieces and nephews standing on the beach with arms on shoulders, windblown hair, and laughing faces. My husband and son wading in the lake at sunset ready to be baptized together. These are pictures that say…remember.
Gratitude has been called the “memory of the heart.” Praise and gratitude bring up pictures in our minds that say, “Remember.”
Isn’t that what Jesus did in the last twelve hours of His life as He broke the bread and passed the cup? “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup…” (Luke 22:19-20). Remember. Give thanks.
Glory moments will come and go, sometimes, most times, rather quickly. We must grab hold, savor the moment in the moment, and then remember.
David invites us, “O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3 NASB). When we praise and thank God, we magnify Him—make Him easier to see. A thankful heart opens the windows of heaven that allow us to peek at glory moments all around. Glimpses. Foretastes of our heavenly home that revive our hope and make us hungry for more of Him.
Why does God want us to give thanks and punctuate all of life with gratitude? He knows that gratitude gives birth to joy. Again, it is not what God wants from us, but what God wants for us. Joy. Thanksgiving in “all things” squeezes difficult circumstances until joy oozes out of us. Fruit, if it had a say in the matter, would not like the squeezing, but it is the only way to get the sweet juice past the tough dimpled skin to the outside. Otherwise it would stay locked away until the fruit shriveled up and died.
Perhaps your relationship with God has come to the plateau of routine, passionless religion—as if your faith is stuck on the sandbar of mediocrity when it is truly meant to sail the seas of the joyful life. So what will lift your boat? What will get the joyless you “unstuck”? I suggest the language of a grateful heart will swell the tide to lift your soul from the sandbar and loosen you from the hold of the sucking muck below. Give it a try. As Jonah showed us, the way out of the belly of the whale is praise.
When I feel distant from God, gratitude and praise is often the ramp to get me back on the right road. When I have strayed from acknowledging His presence, when I have forgotten in Him we live and move and have our being, when I have made me big and God small, gratitude leads me back to right relationship with Him. And then I wonder why I ever would be so careless as to drift away in the first place.
In previous devotions, I mentioned starting your own Sudden Glory journal. In that journal, you can list all that you are grateful for on any given day. After all, realizing and recognizing what God has provided are some of the most resplendent moments of sudden glory you’ll see. Then, on the gray days, when you find yourself in a grumpy mood (come on, I know it happens), pull out your Sudden Glory journal and review all the reasons you have to be thankful! I guarantee it will change your perspective and brighten your day.
Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for the many ways You have made Your presence and working known to me. Thank You for waking me up this morning. For legs that stand, feet that walk, eyes that see, a heart that beats, fingers that grasp, eyelids that blink, wrinkly skinned knees that bend, crow’s feet that show I’ve smiled at life, brown spots that prove I’ve loved the sun, calluses that show I’ve worked with my hands in delight.
Thank You, Jesus.
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Psalm 136 and note the psalmist’s Sudden Glory entry. Use this Psalm as a pattern and write your own entry today!
More from the Girlfriends
Seeing God through the lens of gratitude and grace is one of the themes of my book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More. It’s a great book to help you experience God’s presence on a daily basis. But if you have trouble with grumbling, complaining, and controlling your tongue, I’d suggest delving into my book, The Power of a Woman’s Words. It also has an accompanying study guide that is perfect for your next women’s Bible study.
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Girlfriends in God
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