Persevere in Daily Gratitude

Can I Really Persevere in Daily Gratitude as a Matter of Obedience?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Even in this unfamiliar season of the empty nest, I value its uncomplicated requirement of gathering with loved ones, preparing a meal featuring everyone’s favorites, and cultivating a spirit of gratitude to carry throughout the year.

Of course, that last one can be a little challenging, right? I keep catching myself this year casting a longing glance back over my shoulder at years of perfect attendance around my table when full family gatherings didn’t require air travel.

The question that nags and will not be ignored is this:

Can I be thankful NOW?

Knowing what I know about the sovereignty of God and the blessing that comes after the patient submission to his process of growing my faith, can I practice gratitude in my current circumstances?

I’m not interested in a bait and switch in which I light a candle, practice a brand of skillful denial of the obvious circumstances, and then declare myself patient or grateful–at least for the moment. According to the Apostle Paul, gratitude is more than a spontaneous response or a pumpkin-spice-feeling. It is a matter of obedience to the will of God.

Gratitude is more than a spontaneous response or a pumpkin-spice-feeling. It’s a matter of obedience to the will of God.

Gratitude is an Every Day Choice

Author and poet Wendell Berry put words into the mouth of a fictional, elderly widow named Hannah Coulter who, in addition to being a crackerjack farmhand when needed–probably making a great pie crust–also had a clear handle on her biblical theology:

You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this:
‘Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.’
I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.

(Hannah Coulter, page 113)

Following the Instructions for Gratitude

In this season of gratitude and pumpkin lattes, I will be focusing on those “right instructions,” knowing full well that I, too, am “not all the way capable of so much.” And yet this business of obedience to the Spirit of God is not to be confused with Operation Bootstrap. It is, rather, an operation by which, “the very God of peace will sanctify me wholly” through purposeful rejoicing in what is given and a prayer life that images the inhale and exhale of breathing.

Rolling into the month of November, whether your greatest challenge is deciding between pumpkin and apple pie** on the day of the feast–or whether God is choosing this season to grow you through adversity that requires more faith than you seem to have right now–let’s return to the words of Paul in the way we turn to our recipe for fool-proof gravy, knowing that even though we are not “all the way capable,” the instructions are good, for they are absolutely true, and they are given to us with love:

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

**P.S.  My advice:  Go for a small slice of each.

Giving thanks,

Michele Morin

Let’s return to the biblical instructions for gratitude in the way we turn to our recipe for fool-proof gravy, knowing that they are good, for they are absolutely true, and they are given to us with love: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances.”

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59 thoughts on “Can I Really Persevere in Daily Gratitude as a Matter of Obedience?”

  1. Michele, I love what Hannah Coulter remarked. Those right instructions are not only the perfect recipe for Thanksgiving but for all year long. We need to ask ourselves, “Can I be thankful now?” That is the challenge we will face some days. Blessings, Michele!

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  2. Hello Michele. I hope all is well with you. I wish you success in your gratitude quest. May you enjoy a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving with two slices of pie!

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  3. Rejoice always – two small words that are a tall order. But I do believe if we are looking for it, we can find nuggets in our path for which we can be grateful. every day.

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  4. A grateful heart, and attitude, changes the way you view the world. It must become that daily habit, though! Thank you for linking up. Have a great weekend.

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  5. Sometimes we have to hold up an imaginary magnifying glass to our mind’s eye to see the smaller gifts around us. But “If [we] remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most high God”–Thomas a Kempis. That inspires me to be a Blessing-Detective!

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  6. Yes, got for a slice of each. I agree with you, no “skillful denial of the obvious circumstances, and then declare myself patient or grateful–at least for the moment.” That doesn’t work long term. Obedience and rejoicing in what I’m given by a good God brings true gratitude.

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  7. Empty Nesting does challenge our desire to be grateful in every season of life.Thank you, Michele, for your honesty about how hard it is to have gratitude each day, and your practical advice to follow the instructions!

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    1. I think that’s true of all of us, and the trick seems to be a mindset of perseverance in choosing to veer toward gratitude in spite of our “natural” responses. Easier said than done, and definitely a spiritual discipline!

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  8. Michele, I think this should be required reading! Just shared it on Twitter and I will be sharing it on Grace and Truth this Friday. It is impacting me profoundly as I am also looking over my shoulder at holidays past. Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amen, Michele! Gratitude is more than a pumpkin spice feeling, and should be kept by obedience more than when Thanksgiving rolls around!

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  10. Such a powerful message. “ gratitude is more than a spontaneous response or a pumpkin-spice-feeling. It is a matter of obedience to the will of God.” I really appreciate this lesson today Michele. Blessings.

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  11. Those words from 1 Thessalonians are good ones to live by. Giving thanks in all things is hard. I’ve been practising daily gratitude for several years now thanks to a challenge set up by a friend a few years ago which I joined in with and never stopped. I can’t say that it’s always easy – some days I give thanks through tears and gritted teeth – but it’s been a good thing for me to do. I’ve never thought of it as trying to be obedient to God’s will though so that’s food for thought. #MischiefandMemories

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  12. Michele, you’ve done it again. . . honestly, I don’t set out to feature you at every Grace at Home party, but when I read your posts, I’m compelled to share! Thank you for these helpful thoughts. And I agree with you–a small slice of each kind of pie. (But here in the South the choices are pumpkin and pecan!)

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  13. It can be so difficult to be grateful when times are tough. I have been ill recently and it has been tricky to still count my blessings. But when you concentrate, you can see past the trials of life and find so much to be thankful for. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

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  14. I too am an empty nester and miss the table being full during the holidays. My children all moved far away and don’t come home for the holidays, but are healthy and happy which I am grateful for. However maintaining that gratitude around the empty table is a challenge at times. Thank you for the instructions on how to persevere in gratitude-daily.

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