Gratitude is SO important of a habit for us to cultivate if we want to finish strong on our spiritual journey. The lack of gratitude and the presence of “grumblitude” (I know it’s not a word, but with all due respect Mr. Webster, it really should be!) can be seen in the facial expressions of people all around us. Living in an area like Florida, where there are so many retirees, I see grumblitude written on many of their faces. To grumble, to not be thankful, to see our cup half empty rather than half full is, I believe, a part of our fallen human nature. That means grumblitude is kind of a human default whereas gratitude is more of a divinely learned habit. I was born with a melancholy disposition, which gives me even more of a “grumblitude” tendency than most.
One memory says it all. When I just turned six-years-old I was struck by a melancholic thought that took my parents by surprise when I expressed it to them. It went something like this. “Dad, I’m sad today.” He naturally asked me, “Why? This is a happy day. This is your 6th birthday, Tiger!” That gave me no comfort. I replied. “I know. It is still very sad. The first five years of my life are over. They will never come again.” He chuckled, “Jamie, your life is just beginning. Don’t be sad!” I can actually remember thinking, after he said it. “Boy, he just doesn’t get it. If my life is just beginning, where does that put HIM? He’s practically on life support!” Do you understand what I’ve had to experience in living with myself all these years? Ugh!
But I don’t have to look back 66 years to find an example of this for me. It can be as fresh as today. I am in that time of life (mid-60s) where I have to be taking care of my health and finances a bit more than I did in the past. Today I got a call from Colleen who asked me if really I needed to get a physical I had scheduled because I had just had one just a year ago. There was more to the conversation, but the gist of it was she was watching both of our spending and yet still concern for my health. I hung up a little rudely. Grumblitude. But as I stepped with perspective, I could see that God had given me a wife who was helping me in two key areas, keeping me healthy AND protecting us from wasteful spending. Wow! I should be really thankful for such a gift from God! I called her back and apologized and said I was thankful for her. I moved from grumblitude to gratitude.
So why is grumblitude so dangerous to allow to fester and gratitude so important to cultivate in our spiritual journey? It is because one leads to UNBELIEF and CONCEALING Christ TO us and THROUGH us while the other leads to FAITH and REVEALING of Christ TO us and THROUGH us. It is that simple. The Bible is full of verses that teach this truth. For simplicity sake I will focus on one just two short verses that highlight each quality and illustrate how this domino effect occurs.
First, grumblitude. Paul writes to the Roman Christians speaking of peoples of the earth who have turned away from God at the very beginning of that movement from God their lack of gratitude towards God for what He had given them. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God NOR GAVE THANKS TO HIM but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, the became fools…”Romans 1:21-22. When we stop thanking God we are unable to have faith in Him. He becomes concealed from us knowing Him and of course from others knowing Him through us.
This is the spiritual domino effect of grumbling, not showing gratitude for the air we breathe, the heart that beats within us, the food and drink we receive each day. These are very basics that God provides as gifts for each of us but the natural tendency is to take this all for granted and focus on what we DON’T HAVE. That lack of gratitude and the complaining about what we don’t have is what leads to the horrible downward spiral that is explained by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:23-32. If we need more evidence about this domino effect grumblitude causes we of course need to look no further than Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness and the grumbling that took place not only when they were hungry and thirsty but even AFTER God had met their needs.
Now for gratitude. “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23 NLT). Gratitude in ALL circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18) greatly pleases God because we are not judging if one situation is worthy of thanks or not. We just thank Him in ALL circumstances. This leads to faith, deep trust in Him even when we don’t know if the circumstance can be to us is a “blessing,” or not. We know that God can “work it all for good” even if the situation is painful and causes us temporal earthly loss (see Romans 8:28). Gratitude leads to saving faith which then leads to REVEALING CHRIST both TO us and then THROUGH us.
So back to that 6-year-old now turned 60 something year old. Today he chose GRATITUDE. But this is not “a one and done” decision. It is a quality he must cultivate every day, especially if he truly wants to finish strong!
Written by Jamie Bohnett. Contact the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org