A Sacrifice of Praise

For the past several days there has been an ever-increasing tone of grumbling in our home.  As I have been thinking through ways that I can guide those little hearts of mine to focus on gratitude, God has been convicting me of the vessel of complaint I have built up around my own heart.  I know that if I want to foster a spirit of gratitude in my children, I must allow God to tear that discontent apart, and refashion my heart according to His Word as only His steady, loving, Potter’s hands can.  The more I have reflected on this idea of gratitude the more His Spirit has worked its truth deep inside me.

In 1 Thess. 5:18, Paul urges the church to “give thanks in all things.”  I’ve read this verse countless times.  I know that in the hurtful things, the hard things, and the can’t-keep-it-together things, my response must be one of gratitude.  But sometimes the distance between my head and my heart seems endlessly long.  How do I give thanks for something I am not thankful for?

 “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may 
increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

2 Corinthians 4:15

Grace.  God’s grace.  What a gift!  It is by grace and through grace that we cultivate an eternal perspective.  Oh, I am in such constant need of grace – grace that reveals that every breath is a battle between gratitude and grumbling  -grace that awakens my heart to recognize God’s loving hand in every circumstance turning me away from complaint and towards praise of the One who gives.

A grateful heart sees life not as a series of unfortunate events, but rather as a myriad of moments touched by grace.  The extraordinary works of God are magnified through the lens of gratitude.  When there is an intentional pause in the busyness of my life to shout  – or sometimes whisper – thanks to God, there can be an incredible enlightenment to the far-reaching, never-changing love of God always at work in me.

The ungrateful heart, on the other hand, sees very little of His great love.  It is never content.  Instead, it contrives a version of the present that is so clouded by pain and hurt and messiness that it no longer recognizes the joy and hope that shines in and through and despite of the heartache and weariness.  Or it causes us to create a skewed version of the past – built on the foundation of selective memory – so that it longs for the return of a season that never really existed.

Life was so much easier before…
I was so carefree when…
If only I could go back to…

Ingratitude is a disease that day by painful day syphons the life right out of us until we are just shadows of what we were created to be.   Oh how the enemy of our souls delights in swallowing us in ingratitude!
Ingratitude deflates and defeats us.
Ingratitude robs us of joyful living.
Ingratitude overcomes us until it seems to shut out any trace of the hope found in God’s love.

No, I don’t want to live like that.  I want to adopt the mindset of gratitude. Why? Because gratitude gives birth to joy.

.“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

We were made to respond to every circumstance in grateful worship to God.  This is His will for our lives… to bring Him glory!  And when we chose to respond to every circumstance with gratitude we are living out our purpose – and all the broken fragments of our lives find their place in the beautiful mosaic that is witness to His great goodness.  Can there be any greater joy than this?

But while, gratitude is the most rewarding, life-giving response, it is not something that always comes easy.  In fact, sometimes the path to gratitude can be excruciating.

“Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.”    Hebrews 13:15

Sacrifice: Giving up something that is precious to you for the sake someone or something else.  Perhaps, this sacrifice includes your own understanding of what is beneficial to you…

Hands up

A sacrifice of praise is laying down your own perspective and choosing to raise your hands in thanksgiving anyways.
A sacrifice of praise believes that beneath the ache of our hearts His arms are always there working all things out for His glory and our good.
A sacrifice of praise is wearing joy through hard times because you know that joy is for the brave. And the brave hold on and see glimpses of grace even when things seem hopeless.

And somehow, we all have to be brave, and real, and unafraid.  Because this life – these right now moments- are only here once.  Why waste any more precious time overcome by hopelessness and discontent?

So, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30).  Because as I am breathing out thanks to God I am breathing in hope.  Hope – like oxygen – that I can’t live without.  And the more I recognize the work of His mighty hands and allow my life to magnify His name, the more His joy is an ocean that keeps washing onto the shore of my heart until it has penetrated even the furthest recesses of my being.

And as my heart of gratitude continues to shout “HE IS ENOUGH!” drowning out the voice of discontent, and I am “rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:7), that overflow might just find its way into the hearts of my children.

And that is grace.

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