The time has come!
A new year, a new word…
Wordsmith that I am, I like the idea of having a *word* for the year.
I think it's a unique way for God to speak into your heart – a way to focus on what He wants to teach you in the coming year.
And so, I was on the alert the last two months of last year, listening and waiting for Him to reveal His thoughts on the matter.
Well, this year He did indeed speak.
And the word He gave me is…
I wasn't quite sure I wanted to hear this word.
And, if you think I was protesting, you should have heard the heckling from Nervous Nellie and Negative Nora!
Nellie: "Oh dear. You know that God's going to teach you gratitude by giving you a bunch of stuff you're not thankful for, right? What terrible things are you going to have to be grateful for that you don't want? I'm scared to be grateful, it might jinx things."
Nora: "Oh no. That's a terrible word. I don't feel like being grateful. I like complaining and grumbling and moaning. Count your blessings, shmessings. Life is hard, and there are so many unhappy things in life. Who could be grateful in a world like this? Harumph."
Boy oh boy, do those girls like to yak!
They are insistent and persistent and shrill.
Unfortunately, I listen to them.
(Please tell me that you caught the irony of my immediate reaction to the idea of being grateful – fear and negativity...)
Hence, I began a rather lengthy inner dialogue with God over the next few weeks. I suppose He listened, but He did NOT change His mind. He confirmed this word over and over again.
Including the time I showed up to church and the pastor announced a new sermon series on thankfulness…ahem.
But here's something interesting – at first I thought my word was going to be gratitude.
And yet, just a couple of weeks ago, it changed to grateful.
I pondered that…
Was it just a change of semantics?
What I began to understand was this – gratitude is a noun, a some thing.
I have gratitude.
Almost like a possession.
But grateful is an adjective, and it describes some one.
I am grateful.
A character trait instead.
Maybe it's a small difference, but it has begun to make a big difference in how I view this word.
I don't think God is going to be satisfied with me simply possessing gratitude - somehow that seems like it stops at an intellectual level.
I have gratitude for this and that...
No, I think God wants more – He wants to transform something fundamental about me. He wants to move beyond my mind into my heart.
He wants to make me a grateful person.
This does not come naturally.
And this is why I begin this year with a struggle.
I know that many of you have read Ann Voskamp's book, "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are."
And I know that many of you would say that it's been life-changing.
But I have never been an innately optimistic person.
Sure, I express gratitude for things, I show appreciation for people, I can be thankful when it comes right down to it.
But an Ebenezer Scrooge lurks deep within my soul.
And when he heard my word, he muttered…
(I think Ebenezer is the grandfather of Nellie and Nora…)
OK, so this is the word.
Why is this word so important?
Because gratitude is a really big deal to God.
Part of the reason God judges the human race is because they do not give Him thanks –
"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21, ESV)
And if gratefulness is important to God, you can be assured that the enemy will fight against it.
After all, isn't that exactly what he did in the Garden of Eden? He tried to convince Adam and Eve that God was withholding something from them, that He wasn't the Great Giver of Good Gifts.
(Commentary from Matthew Henry: "It is the craft of Satan to speak of the Divine law as uncertain or unreasonable, and so to draw people to sin…Satan teaches men first to doubt, and then to deny. He promises advantage from their eating this fruit. He aims to make them discontented with their present state, as if it were not so good as it might be, and should be.")
Yes, the enemy is the father of discontent.
And when the seeds of discontent are allowed to germinate, they sprout into the weeds of grumbling, complaining, thoughtlessness, faultfinding, cynicism, anger, and bitterness.
Just exactly the opposite of being grateful.
Yes, Lord, You have made no mistake in choosing this word for me.
However, I'm not gonna lie, so far being grateful feels like wearing a coat that's too big, or too small – it just doesn't fit right.
And the journey of making it fit is going to require me getting bigger – moving past my narrow, nervous, negative way of looking at life – and smaller – learning how to be humble enough to show gratitude for the many gifts I've been given, none of which I deserve.
So how am I going to live it out?
At first, I'm going to start by thinking of one thing that I'm grateful for each day.
JUST. ONE. THING.
(C'mon, guys – I'm like a kid learning how to walk. It's going to take some crawling at first, lots of tripping and falling and bumping my head...)
This process feels uncomfortable to me, rather arbitrary – kinda forced and stilted – perhaps even a bit insincere (especially on those horrible, no good, very bad days)?
But a journey begins with small steps, and this is the way I'm starting…
The Lord has been so clear that this is *THE WORD* for the coming year.
And though I am squirming a bit, I am excited to see what changes God is going to bring in me.
It feels a lot like a continuation of the last two years – the years of joy and healing.
For what can bring more joy than seeing God’s gracious providence and goodness in each day?!
And what can bring more healing than learning to be grateful every day?!
Lord, I thank You for this word, and for the journey it begins.
May it permeate my thoughts, capture my feelings, and transform my spirit.
G ratitude is
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
You can find today's Scripture verses on my new page, 2016 VERSES ON BEING GRATEFUL.
Except for this (which I have personalized), from Psalm 145 (Amplified Bible):
"I will exalt You, my God, O King,
and [with gratitude and submissive wonder]
I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You and lovingly praise You;
yes, [with awe-inspired reverence]
I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
and His greatness is [so vast and profound as to be]
unsearchable [incomprehensible to man].
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
and I shall declare Your mighty and remarkable acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
I will speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
and [with gratitude and submissive wonder]
I will tell of Your greatness.
I will overflow [like a fountain]
when I speak of Your great and abundant goodness
and I will sing joyfully of Your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
The Lord is good to me,
and His tender mercies are over all His works
[the entirety of things created].
All Your works shall give thanks to You and praise You, O Lord,
and Your godly ones will bless You.
I shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
and talk of Your power,
to make known...Your mighty acts
and the glorious majesty of Your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord upholds me when I fall
and raises me up when I am bowed down.
My eyes look to You [in hopeful expectation],
and You give me food in due time.
You open Your hand
and satisfy my desires.
The Lord is [unwaveringly] righteous in all His ways
and gracious and kind in all His works.
The Lord is near to me when I call on Him,
when I call on Him in truth (without guile).
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear and worship Him
[with awe-inspired reverence and obedience];
He also will hear my cry and will save me.
The Lord keeps all who love Him,
but all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
And my flesh will bless and gratefully praise
His holy name forever and ever."
NOTE: In order to incorporate a grateful attitude into my daily life, and to keep at it, I'm adding some NEW FEATURES.
Accountability is a good thing!
First of all, you'll find a section called "Daily Grateful Word" on my sidebar – in which I list the one thing I chose to be thankful for each day of the past week. Then, I'm adding a new page called "Daily Grateful Thoughts" – in which I expand on my feelings about my grateful word.
I'm adding some other features, too.
Here's the new stuff!!
My Word for 2016
My Verse for 2016
Daily Grateful Word
A Word from the Word – (weekly Bible verse)
A "Message" from God – (weekly Bible verse from The Message)
Food For Thought – (picking one of my grateful words, and a question to prompt your thoughts)
Daily Grateful Thoughts
2016 Verses on Being Grateful
2016 Quotes on Being Grateful
2016 Essays on Being Grateful
2016 Grateful Songs
What's your new word for 2016?
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