Choosing Gratitude Day 26 — “hard-won” Thankfulness

Just because statements such as “choosing joy” or “thankfulness is a choice” are true, doesn’t mean that joy and gratitude “just happens” as a Christian.

Don’t I wish it were like Cinderella. . .I want to go to the ball, but I don’t have a dress to wear.

Enter fairy godmother. “Bippity-Boppity-Boo!” and my raggedy dress turns to a beautiful ball gown, including hair and makeup. . .

No. No. No.

Yes, I must want to be thankful.

Yes, I must ask for a heart of gratitude.

Yes, God is faithful to give what He desires for me.

But there’s no magic wand here. Deciding to be thankful in all circumstances is hard work. Obedience to God’s command is sometimes hard work.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God,, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. . .2 Corinthians 10:5

“destroy” and “take captive” are not passive words, not “let it be” or “que sera, sera” words. They are more like “braveheart” words, or “we were soldiers” words . . .

. . .my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved . . . Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. . .Philippians 4:1, 4

An impassioned plea from a spiritual mentor and pastor suffering in prison. He can’t be with them personally, so he writes a letter, begging them to fight for joy. Paul knows it’s not always easy, which is why he tells them later in the letter that he has had to

[learn] in whatever situation I am to be content. . .I can do all things through him who strengthens me Philippians 4:11, 13

Philippians 4:13 has become so very real to me. Fighting for joy and thankfulness seems impossible when I barely have the strength to get out of bed. Waves of nausea, blurred vision, muscle pain, exhaustion. . .and I am supposed to fight?!

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. Psalm 5:7,8

I don’t approach God on my own merit. When I was healthy, it was easy to forget that I truly had no ability to approach God on my own. My “enemy” was just as often my own self-sufficiency as anything outside of me.

Now I KNOW I have no strength on my own to fight. I depend on His steadfast love. I cry out for His mercy. And He shows me His way . . .

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:11,12

And I can rejoice that God is Immanuel — with me always. He protects me from despair with the holy “body armor” of His love and His favor.

He gives me the strength to rejoice.

He gives me the hope to live on.

He gives me the peace that is beyond understanding.

And I am so grateful.

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