Everyone has a disposition in life, perspective and the attitude to follow it. Some people are naturally cynical and antagonistic. They see the glass as half-full and are pessimistic in nature. Other people are always optimistic no matter what the odds.
Last week we discussed how God is good in providing for all of our needs, protecting us in every situation, and providentially guiding our lives. With God at the helm, we may not be optimistic all the time. We may face trials and wonder where he went. But we know he is always there and he’s always with us.
With such a great and good God always with us, how can we not have a positive attitude even in the face of suffering and trials? Our perspective isn’t in the moment as winds and waves of the storm rage against us. Our eyes are on Jesus and the bigger picture we know he’s weaving.
Attitude is a major factor in our disposition. We need to have the attitude of gratitude when we see how God works in our lives. Sometimes he works more behind the scenes and other times his work is very noticeable. Most of the time we must look back to see his hand in our situations. In the moment, we must trust that he is doing what he’s always done.
After building a foundation of God’s provision, protection, and providence, focusing on knowledge of God’s goodness, we must now turn to feeling God’s goodness in our lives. Knowing about these three things leaves us to feel God moving in our lives.
This feeling is a choice. We choose to believe that God provides for the needs even before we know about them. We trust that God protects us from destructive situations. And we trust that God is guiding our lives providentially. How can we react with gratitude for his greatness and goodness.
In one of the greatest services I’ve ever been part of, one of my professors and Bible College walked up to the microphone during a prayer time and pointed out that God is great and God is good. He said that God is great because he is transcendent, supernatural, above creation. But God is also good in that his character and deeds toward us are good. He wants us to partake in his goodness without forgetting his greatness.
I began to think about these Four Pillars of Thanksgiving for this month’s posts. The next step in the process from knowing God’s goodness is to experience it and feel it in our hearts. Then our hearts will react differently than they do if they didn’t believe God was doing such good things for each of us.
What are the marks of a grateful heart? I’ve chosen three ways to describe the heart that is grateful toward our good and great God.
- A grateful heart recognizes goodness. We know what goodness looks like. God has demonstrated it over and over in our lives. Beginning with our salvation experience, every experience we have builds on that first impression. To show gratefulness to God we focus on his goodness. We champion that goodness in front of others. We get so used to seeing God’s goodness that it gets easier and easier to notice. We begin to look for goodness in our lives.
- A grateful heart acknowledges goodness. It’s not enough to recognize goodness. We can properly identify goodness but we have to make an effort to practice goodness. I can realize that God did something amazing in my life but my next step is to acknowledge that goodness. I tell God about it. I let him know how grateful I am because he gave his goodness to me. Acknowledging God’s goodness requires that we act, speak to God and praise him for his goodness. I like to enumerate the moments I think of that he is moved in my life.
- A grateful heart is generous. Once we recognize and acknowledge God’s goodness in our lives, it is time to take God’s generosity and give it away to others. Don’t ever be afraid to be generous. Whether the person you’re generous to those God or not you are giving them a witness, a sample, of God’s goodness. It’s a very effective witnessing tool, but it’s not about getting new players on our team. It is about not being able to contain your gratitude. It is fighting to get out and the best way to pass on gratitude is through generosity.
Gratitude unleashed in generosity looks like, “Jesus blessed me that I had to pass it on.” How could we not be grateful for Jesus’ sacrificial act on the cross that saved our lives? We become attracted to God’s goodness because it’s so easily recognizable at least in the past.
Our trust mounts because we know he’s doing it again even behind the scenes. Even though we can’t see the results, God is working in the background and that gives us reason to be grateful no matter what the current situation may be.
A grateful heart trusts that God is working in our lives. It trusts in God’s track record and what he has done in our past. He’s never let us down. So we know we can praise him even in the midst of our circumstances because he is working things out.
Gratitude recognizes that God doesn’t have to step in and take care of us like he does. Gratitude trusts that he’ll continue to do what he said he would do. Gratitude embraces God’s goodness and feels it even before we see the proof.
Instead of reacting to our trials and situations we choose to act. We keep our eyes on Jesus instead of the wind waves. We focus on testimonies of God’s goodness and the past where God has already proven himself over and over. Scripture says that God doesn’t change (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8) so we know he is doing it again.
So let’s choose to trust that God is doing great things in our lives before we see the proof. Let’s feel grateful for what we know he will show us at the proper time. Let gratitude rule our hearts in place of fear or anxiety. Before we can be thankful we must be grateful. Leave a comment and tell me what you think about gratitude and how you demonstrate it.