Some years ago I was counseling a teenager who had been
raised from infancy by his grandparents. The boy’s father had been killed in an
automobile accident, and subsequently his mother disappeared. The grandparents
had been doing all they could for him at great expense to themselves. It is
difficult for anyone to raise a teenager, and people in their 60s and
70s ought not to have to go through it a second time around.
For several years he rewarded them with unfathomable
rebellion, anger and sin until he made his grandparents miserable. I told him,
“They did not have to take you in. You could have gone to an orphanage. You
could have been a ward of the court. They got up with you in the middle of the
night. They changed your diapers and fed you and clothed you. They raised you
at great sacrifice to themselves. Nobody would have blamed them if they had
said, “We just can’t handle it at our age.”
He replied bitterly, “Do you think this is the first time
I’ve ever thought of all that? I know what they’ve done. What am I supposed to
do, spend the rest of my life saying ‘thank you’?”
Well, yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! You’re supposed to
spend the rest of your life saying “thank you.” Everyone is. That is what real
life is, an expression of gratitude to God. Yes, we are supposed to spend the
rest of our lives, every waking moment, saying “thank you.” The apostle Paul
said, “I consider myself to be in debt, both to the Greek and to the non-Greek;
I am indebted to the whole world. I am in debt to God!” (See Rom. 1:14).
The reason we resist the life of unending gratitude is fear
that “thank you” implies responsibility. What we want is to be free from the
responsibility to, in any way, “pay some of it back.”
All ingratitude is basically ingratitude to God. God blesses
us with health, happiness and the joy of children, but we sulk because we are
not the president of the United States. We pray for a job, and when we get one,
we whine about the pay. A woman prays for a new house and resents having to
clean it. A single woman prays to get married and then lives in sullen
depression because her long-awaited husband is not perfect.
We are seldom just plain, bottom-line grateful to God. God
gives us the strawberry sundae, and we complain because it does not have
whipped cream. He gives us the whipped cream, and we moan for a cherry on top.
At some point we must dare to defeat the spirit of “not enough” (see Prov.
30:15-16) and say, “It IS enough. I am content with this. It is more than I
Gratitude as well as ingratitude can become a habit of life.
We can begin to see everything that happens to us as an opportunity to praise
Leonard Ravenhill told of a minister visiting a horrible
insane asylum in the United Kingdom sometime in the latter part of the 19th
century. As the minister walked in the front door, a man in a second-story
window pressed his head through the bars and shouted down to the visitor below,
“Have you thanked God today?”
“I have,” the pastor answered.
“Aye,” the inmate said, “but have you thanked Him for your
We must get specific with God. Instead of complaining about
the rain, thank God that you are alive. Instead of complaining about your
husband, thank God you are not lonely. Instead of complaining about having to
wear this or that kind of shirt, thank God you have a shirt.
Gratitude is a learned way of life. It is the open hand
instead of the clenched fist. It is saying, “yours” and not, “mine.” It is the
Spirit of Jesus and not the spirit of the world.
There is joy and meaning to be found in serving God, who has
given us more than we could ever pay back. Learning to live in celebrational
gratitude is the key to happy significance.
Adapted from Character Matters by Mark Rutland, copyright
2003. Published by Charisma House. In this book, the author discusses nine
essential traits you need to succeed. He tells what they are, why they are
important and how they can be seen as evidence that God is at work in your
life. To order a copy, click here:
PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 4-9-2012
This week take note of
every blessing you have and express your gratitude to God each day. Ask Him for
opportunities to share your faith with others and be a blessing to those around
you. Continue to pray for
revival in our churches and transformation for our cities, counties, states and
the entire nation. Pray for the
upcoming elections. Remember those
suffering for the cause of Christ as you pray for Israel, the Middle East and a
world harvest. I Thes. 5:17-18
To enrich your prayer
life and learn how to strategically pray with power by using appropriate
scriptures, we recommend the following sources by Apostle John Eckhardt: Prayers that Rout Demons, Prayers that Bring Healing, Prayers that Release Heaven on Earth and Prayers that Break
Curses. To order any or all of these click here.