Thankfulness springs from the heart that has been captivated by the grace of God and ravished by a delight in the finished work of Jesus Christ. That sentence may be a mouthful, but it encapsulates what the Lord has recently been teaching me. In my flesh, I often struggle with a focus on what opportunities I may have in the future. Having many opportunities is not bad given they are blessings from God. My problem and maybe yours also is when the focus of our attention is on our opportunities to the point we get discouraged or depressed because we don’t have what we perceive are the “right” opportunities. Such an attitude is sinful and is based on unbelief.
Rather than focusing on my opportunities, I am very slowly learning to remember what God has done in the past in my life and what He continued to do in the present. One of the reasons Israel disobeyed God and violated His commandments was they failed to remember what God had done on their behalf such as the deliverance from Egypt and the miracle at the Red Sea. They failed to remember how God had chosen them out of all the nations of the world. Unfortunately, we often operate in much the same manner, especially when we get so busy with life that we forget God’s providence. During such times of forgetfulness, I like to take a day off and think only about all God has done. Doing this has helped me more than anything in my life. It has also caused my joy in God to increase exponentially thus lighting a deeper passion for the love and mission of God.
While focusing on my opportunities is a struggle, so is the problem of focusing on our circumstances or trials. The purpose of our trials is to wean us off from glorying in ourselves to instead glory in God alone. God is worthy of all of our praise and yet do we praise Him when trials come? While each of us has struggles, and trials, each one of us has a God who is present and who longs to meet with us. Yet do we meet with Him or do we doubt Him? For me, I know I struggle at this point and even in writing this I can feel the tension between my belief and my doubt. Yet I am convinced that thankfulness springs from the heart of one who is captivated by the wonder of the grace of God. Given that life comes at us a million miles an hour, is it any surprise that we often focus on our trials rather than to simply remember what God has done to provide for us, to walk beside us and grow us in His grace? Is it any wonder that even today I struggled to believe and hold on to my new identity in Christ? The grace of God is sufficient for us in every way because Jesus’ work isn’t maybe done but is done. His work is sufficient to meet us in every way because it is signed, sealed, and delivered with the blood of Jesus Christ.
Maybe today you feel overwhelmed. You may feel that life is coming down on you and there is no way out. You may be living paycheck to paycheck wondering how you are going to make ends meet. You may have lost your job and thus are looking for work to provide for your family. Know the Bible says God knows every hair on our head. This God knows the beginning of our days and when we will die. Why is it then that we fail to remember what God has done and is doing in our lives? The reason is we fail to remember that our lives are a testimony to His grace that superabounds. The grace of God is never ending towards us so that we will be overwhelmed with wonder at all He has done. The result of such abundant grace must be awe-inspiring reverence and worship of the God of all grace. You can never marvel at the grace of God enough, but you can fail to marvel resulting in apathy. Thankfulness is the fruit of the Gospel at work in our lives. The more we meditate on and pause to remember the work God has and is doing in our lives, the more our lives will be a testament to His grace.
The saints of old understood this principle. They walked the old paths and didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. We as Christians need the old trusted paths for our journey in the grace of God. They provide stability and are a time tested treasure that God has bequeathed to His people that they may walk in His righteousness. Do you remember what God has done in your life? Have you spent time thinking about what He is doing? This isn’t an exercise in introspection, rather it is an exercise in reflection of what God has done and is doing in your life so that you may marvel and be awestruck by His grace. I don’t know about you but that causes me to worship Jesus all the more. I don’t know about you but for me that breaks the chains of apathy, selfishness, and self-righteousness by pointing me to the finished and sufficient work of Jesus Christ. So remember what God has done and is doing and marvel at His work, for His work in and through you is a testament of His grace, for His glory, that His Gospel may be advanced both in your heart and life and through you for His glory.