Jerusalem has been utterly destroyed and it’s people taken into captivity. And as a witness to the desolation, Jeremiah is heartbroken. Yet even in the midst of pain, the prophet’s heart is filled with gratitude as he calls out to the Lord, “Great is Your faithfulness!”
It’s hard for me to read the book of Lamentations without a lump forming in my throat. It’s pages are filled with the pain of the prophet Jeremiah, who grieves deeply over the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. With its buildings reduced to rubble, its streets barren, and its people taken as slaves, the sorrow Jeremiah feels is immeasurable. Yet somehow in the midst of desolation and despair, the prophet still has a heart of gratitude for the goodness of God declaring, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’ (Lam. 3:22-24)
Gratitude is a powerful tool in overcoming the feelings that ail us. By remembering the goodness of God; His love, grace, and mercy, our hearts will be so overflowing with thankfulness, we too will be grateful no matter the circumstance. God is faithful, His love never ending, and His mercies always in full supply. I was reading an article by Peg Robarchek, and loved it when she said, “Gratitude is the spiritual practice that keeps me grounded in hope, and reminds me that God is my source for all that is good in my life. The Lord is, indeed, my portion. And my portion is abundant.” So how can we practice gratitude? I wanted to share a couple of things that help me when I find my praise and thanks to the Lord beginning to wane.
Make A List – No matter our circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for. Each day take time out to think of at least one way in which you were blessed by God. Whether it be in a journal, a whiteboard, a folder on your laptop, or a note on your tablet, write down whatever comes to mind. At the end of each week, reread what you’ve written remembering to thank God for His many blessings.
Read The Psalms – No one knew higher highs and lower lows than David. Yet through it all his love for the Lord never wavered. He wrote song after song of devotion and thanksgiving to God. That kind of gratitude is infectious, and by reading a Psalm a day we too can have hearts filled with gratitude for God’s work, and lips of worship that sing, “I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” (Ps. 34)
Give To Others – Nothing fills a heart with gratitude faster then helping someone in need. Complaining and unthankfulness can’t help but take a back seat when we see the struggles of those less fortunate. Suddenly blessings once taken for granted, become greatly appreciated. And as a bonus, when we reach out to those less fortunate out of appreciation to the Lord, we bring gratitude into the lives of others; becoming loving ambassadors of God’s grace and mercy.
One more great example of gratitude can be found in Corrie Ten Boom. If you’ve never read her book, “The Hiding Place”, I highly recommend it. Imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Corrie and her sister Betsie were kept in “Barracks 28”. A horrible place where the conditions were beyond inhuman, and death all but a certainty. Yet even in such suffering, Corrie still had a heart of gratitude. She was thankful that she and her sister were together. Thankful they had a Bible in which to study and share God’s Word. And believe it or not, grateful for the fleas in the infested straw bed in which she was forced to sleep. Why? Because as it turned out, the cruel and abusive supervisors who ran the camp were afraid of those fleas. Not wanting to be infested themselves, they left the women alone. “Through those fleas, God protected the women from abuse and harassment. Dozens of desperate women were free to hear the comforting, hope-giving Word of God. Through those fleas, God protected the women from much worse things and made sure they had their deepest, truest needs met.” (khouse.org )
Finally, whenever you feel yourself lacking in the gratitude department, remember this. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Eph. 1:4) Imagine that! Even before the creation of the earth, God knew and wanted each of us! He formed us, chose us, and because of His love for us, provided reconciliation to Him through the blood of His Son Jesus. And knowing that God calls me His, overflows my heart with such love, praise and gratitude, that I too can cry out, “Great is Your faithfulness!