Gratitude was never meant to be a one day holiday, not for Christ followers. Gratitude is more like breathing; it makes every day better. In a valley that has been rocked by bad news lately, with likely more to come, gratitude beats happy every day.
Why do I say that? How often do we think that getting something, consuming something, buying something will make us happy? But the research shows that looking for the good that already is, will deliver more happiness than buying stuff. Keeping a gratitude list or journal is scientifically proven to decrease anxiety, enrich relationships and make you 25% happier.
Perhaps our time spent in line on Black Friday might have been better spent making our gratitude list. As Ann Voskamp writes in an article entitled Losing Our Language, “Why is it easier to seemingly buy our joy than to give thanks to God who is our Joy? Pens and grateful perspectives are a lot cheaper – and guaranteed.” So here’s part of the gratitude list that I’m making at this moment — not necessarily in order of priority or passion!
1) I’m grateful for my family. (This one does rank near the top.) Having all our kids home for a couple of days was a great joy. I love watching them grow and catching glimpses of God at work in them. I am grateful for Lynn, she is the heart, the relational glue of our family, and my very best friend.
2) I’m grateful that my jeep is running.
3) I’m grateful for the rough times that stretch us. We’ve had a few in the last few years. Some of them are public times, like the crud of the last few weeks. Some are private times that few know about. But God uses the rough times to chisel away the stuff that will never look like Jesus in us.
4) I’m grateful for my LifeGroup. We don’t meet often enough…but every time…we laugh and pray so well that I go home with a lighter spirit.
5) I’m grateful for people who are generous. Generosity is one of those virtues that changes the world, one life at a time. Some of the generous people in my life have blessed me, and my family. Some have moved the Calvary mission forward in amazing ways. I’m grateful to help lead such a generous church. As you give of your time, your energy, your creativity, your talents, and your finances, you are changing the world…and God is changing you.
6) I’m grateful that we allowed God to interrupt our life with Jaden.
7) I’m grateful for the mentors in my life, from my parents to coaches, to Sunday School teachers, to farmers and businessmen, to ministry partners. I’ve learned a great deal.
8) I’m grateful for football. I know, that one’s taken a hit in our valley. But I love to watch. I loved playing. Team sports were one of the greatest shapers of my life, heart, and character. I’m not particularly grateful for the way the Minnesota Vikings have been playing.
9) I’m grateful for my prayer shield. I’m not sure I have ever been more encouraged by a group of guys than I have been in the last few months by this group.
10) I’m grateful for Lynn. I know I already listed her, but she deserves at least two numbers on my list. Because of my public position, many see what I do. But I’m convinced the day will come in heaven’s research rooms where someone says, “Ha…you think Dan impacted people. Let me show you how Lynn impacted the lives and hearts of so many more than Dan, and I won’t even mention how Dan’s impact would’ve shrunk without her.”
Finally I’m grateful for the patience, grace, truth, love, power, and glory of God, of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. I’m grateful that when I give thanks…I know where the thanks goes.