The Wrong Order
When we go through difficult seasons in life, it is tempting to get things in the wrong order. We tend to look first at our circumstances and try to interpret God’s love and care, which seems missing.
We loose sight of the big picture and run to put out the immediate fire. Fully understandably, but dangerous.
Our emotions are strong and demanding and we cave easily to their demands. We want relief and peace. If God really loves me and is all-powerful, surely He would want the same for me?
Gracious Gratitude vs Natural Gratitude
Mary K. Mohler in her recent book, Growing in Gratitude, brings out the importance of Jonathan Edward’s distinctions of “Gracious Gratitude” versus “Natural Gratitude.”
- Gracious Gratitude: This is thankfulness for God himself – for who He is
- Natural Gratitude: This is thankfulness for blessings received – for good gifts
Gratitude that acknowledges and thanks God for who He is lays the foundation for natural thanksgiving for what He gives. When we really understand God’s character; that He is completely sovereign, perfect in love, self-existent, with no beginning or end, aware of everything and nothing is hidden from Him, and that He has provided a way through Jesus Christ to forgive all our sin and make us His sons and daughters, our trust in Him fills our perspective.
It lays the foundation for why I can think thanks about every circumstance in my life and express that thanks orally or in a written form.
The Right Order
When the correct view of God is settled in our mind, we can then choose to think thanks in every circumstance in our lives. The strength of being th(i)nkful can only come from trust in a sovereign Creator and God that is good and worthy.
His plan to make me conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, is clear from Romans 8:29. That sanctification may take me through seasons that frankly are quite uncomfortable, but knowing that He has an end product in mind gives me the grace to trust that He knows exactly what He is doing. I can be th(i)nkful in every circumstance.
“A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer. It stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times. No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.”