Audacious Gratitude

Are you daring enough to practice audacious gratitude?

It can be challenging to be truly grateful for the thousands of blessings we experience in a day. We’re so accustomed to these gifts that it takes a concerted effort just to notice them.  Every day I put at the top of my calendar what I am thankful for the day before. I write about things like the view of Blog.2013.07.22.prayer and gratitude imagemountains from my deck in Portland, or the feel of a deep cool breath of crisp morning air. When I look back it is overwhelming how good God is. But I know I’m missing things all the time. And the truth is, even if I managed to thank God for every blessing in my life, it still wouldn’t be enough, not really. What God commands is much harder, and more radical. The Bible exhorts us to be grateful, not for just the blessings we receive, but in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and for everything (Ephesians 5:20).

That means being grateful in pain, disappointment, and fear, right alongside the joys and comforts. It requires a certain kind of audacity when you think about it. I mean, who am I to say that the creator of the universe takes an interest in me? That He not only blesses my life occasionally, but that He uses everything that happens to me for good?

Furthermore, how can we honestly greet suffering and pain with gratitude? In the book, One Thousand Gifts,” Ann Voskamp points to the example of Jesus’ final hours on earth when, knowing fully everything that was to come and every pain he and his loved ones would suffer, Jesus took bread and gave thanks. For Ann, and for me too, that simple truth holds big answers.

It means that sometimes gratitude is an act of obedience more than anything else. By offering God thanks, even in the midst of pain, you acknowledge that His plan is bigger than you. That doesn’t mean you have to ignore or hide the pain or fear you might feel. God is not interested in platitudes. For proof, just look to Psalms. Over and over, you’ll see the psalmists cry out to God in fear and anguish and even anger. But they thank Him too. They thank Him for good things that He has done, but more than that, they thank Him for being good:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

This exact phrase is repeated several times throughout the psalms (see Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, and 136:1), and it appears elsewhere in the Bible as well. You can thank God for being good, even as you experience something bad.

And as you acknowledge and lean in to His goodness, you will find that there is great joy and freedom to be had from this kind of audacious gratitude. When things go wrong, I offer this simple prayer (from Work, Love, Pray): “God, I’m not sure why this is happening, but I know you do and that you will work it all out for me, so thank you.” For me, this puts everything in its place.

What can you thank God for today?