I was recently asked to share with a young adult, just starting out in life, my best words of wisdom.
You are guaranteed to go through seasons in your life when things don’t go as planned, or even worse than that, people sin against you (or the other way around) and you must endure difficult times. And it doesn’t always happen because you haven’t obeyed God; often it happens all the more because you have obeyed God (think of Job, or David’s trials with King Saul, or how about every one of the prophets?)
When you experience low points in your life like that, that is the enemy’s preferred time to send his big guns against you to kick you when you’re down. His big guns are:
Feeling rejected or abandoned by God;
Doubt in God’s promises, provision, or love for you;
Charging God with wrongdoing, since He ultimately allows others to have their free will for good or ill.
But God has given us a mighty weapon of warfare that completely obliterates anything the enemy can send against us. Bitterness, doubt, and all the rest – even the difficult trials themselves – are no match for it. I have spent decades of my adult life learning what that mighty weapon is, as God has patiently taught me from one trial to the next. What I am about to share with you is the greatest gold I have learned in the past three decades of life.
That weapon is GRATITUDE.
I keep a prayer journal (I highly recommend doing that by the way; I write in mine nearly every day; it is a combination diary/ prayer requests and answers, and the things God is speaking to me and teaching me in that season) and every day, I start my entry with three things that I am thankful to God for, that He did for me the previous day. Three concrete things. Some days there will be amazing miracles, like being delivered from car wrecks and danger; finding money, having things given to you, or finding unbelievable sales on needed items right at the time you needed them. Some days it will be little things – someone was kind, or the sunset was particularly beautiful. And some days might be so hard, that you can think of nothing else other than, “I thank You that You saved me, Father;” – going back to the Scripture to find our gratitude.
But that is the whole point – there is always, always, always, always, ALWAYS many things to be thankful for. Salvation is a BIG DEAL! Being delivered from eternal death is a BIG DEAL! And God is accomplishing what concerns you even if your eyes didn’t see evidence of it that day – so we can always thank God for it!
Having a grateful heart, and being on the lookout for good things happening that you can write in your prayer journal later, short circuits the pathway of thoughts the enemy uses to root us into a spirit of bitterness, or despair, or depression, or any number of negative attitudes that cause the faith of many people to shipwreck. It even short circuits bad situations; because it provides the spiritual ‘lift’ necessary to mount up with wings as eagles, soaring above the storm clouds below and basking in the sunshine.
And I will tell you a secret. You have read in the Scripture that God loves a cheerful giver. Someone who is constantly giving Him cheerful and sincere thanksgiving no matter what is happening in their life, He loves. They go on His favorites list. Yes, God has favorites. He loves everyone of course, but certain children have His ear and delight His heart, as you can read in the Scripture. Jesus loved all His twelve disciples, but then there was that one disciple that He loved. Jesus loved all the people of Israel He ministered to while He was on this earth, but then He loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary. He does not hide His face from His obedient children who recognize that He is good as the Scripture says, and is always doing good things no matter what the circumstances are trying to get them to believe – who are actively grateful for Him, regardless of what He is doing for them or not!