Oh here we go again, you might say, another lesson on gratitude.

Strangely, though, this is one lesson that I haven’t gotten right yet.  I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Life Fully Right Where You Are, and the journey through its pages is telling me that I have so much more to learn about the connection between gratitude and powerful living.

I’ve been listening to my conversations with people lately, and the words I am hearing are not pleasant.  Complaints. Impatience. Annoyance. Don’t I regularly speak about the power of praise? Didn’t I write an entire book about God’s blessings in the face of disability and despair?  Don’t I stand and lead others in worship in all times, good and bad?

If so, then why am I not wrapping myself each day in the protective blanket of praise?

And now that I’m thinking about it — where has my joy gone?

The Bible says that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”(Nehemiah 8:10)

Look a little more closely at that verse and we can see that the word “strength” here (Ma`owz) means

“place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold place of safety, fastness, harbour, stronghold refuge (of God), human protection.”

And since the Word of God is Truth, then shouldn’t I praise God (choosing thanksgiving over complaints) all the more on my darker days? Days when the reality of my situation would lead me to despair and hopelessness, choosing instead to focus on God’s promise of a future?

Choosing joy over ingratitude bring me to a place of safety, protection and refuge.

There’s God’s infallible promise, written clearly in Nehemiah.  A gift from God, the secret to overcoming.

In today’s worship moment, I am passing along a truth that I learned from singer and songwriter Laura Story, who surprised us by showing up to lead worship at Church at Charlotte this morning. Laura says in her new song “Blessings,”

What if…the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?


I think she’s on to something.  A truth I keep trying to burn forever into my heart but find a need for frequent reminders.  So today, I’m choosing gratitude instead of self-centerness.  I’m choosing to find God in the simplest joys of life.

I’m choosing life, not death, a life of abundance lived right here, right now.



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