Growing In Gratitude When Life Isn’t Easy

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With November in full force, Thanksgiving upon us, and the holiday season in full swing, we may find ourselves asking, “What does it mean to be thankful? What exactly is it that I’m thankful for? How do I grow in gratitude?”

I find it easy to be thankful when things are running smoothly. When my life is going well, when bills are paid, the laundry is done, and the kids are getting along, gratitude comes easily. But to be honest with you, it is unusual for things line up so perfectly. Life is rarely so seamless. And as painful as it is to admit, I am not a naturally a grateful person. This is something that I have struggled with and something that I have been working on since becoming a Revelation Wellness Instructor. Most days I wake up to a dirty kitchen, toys and throw pillows all over the living room floor, no milk in the fridge, and an empty roll of toilet paper in the bathroom that no one has taken time to fill again. It is hard for me to be grateful and rejoice in ALL circumstances as the Bible instructs us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1: 2-4

So what happens when life is not easy? When it seems like everything is going wrong? When things are just not fun and life is stressful? Is it even possible to be grateful in ALL
circumstances, good and bad?

I heard a pastor once say, “We love the mountaintop moments– those moments when you literally feel like you just climbed the biggest and toughest mountain of your life. And maybe you literally have climbed the biggest and toughest mountain of your life. You feel so accomplished and proud. It’s a fantastic feeling. But those great mountaintop moments will not last forever. Mountaintop moments are temporary highs. We were not made to live and thrive on mountaintops. They are temporary, and God designed it that way!”

True living actually occurs down in the valleys. That is where we find the streams of living water flowing, sustaining all of life. It is there in the trenches filled with mud and muck that we find and encounter God in the most profound and personal ways. Suffering, struggling, pain, and discipline are frequent in the Christian life, producing perseverance and preparing us for the blessings and promises that are to come. Suffering keeps us humble, and teaches us to cry out to our King and learn to rely on him.

When I have wanted to give up because it all felt “too hard” and the mountain I was facing was just “too big,” but persevered instead, was when I encountered the mercy and unconditional love of Father God the most. When I am weak and aware of my weakness, God shows up and does miraculous things. When we struggle we realize we are ALIVE and we begin to see God’s beautiful purposes through all of it, making us more like Christ. As we press on with faith in Christ, often when the growing pains of struggle and change are the most intense, the beauty comes in the midst of it all.

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Growing in gratitude– being thankful for all of life, the good and the bad– is a sign of spiritual maturity. We understand that life is not perfect. We see that abundant life in Christ does not occur only on mountaintops, but mostly (and especially) in the valleys. It’s realizing that as Christians, suffering and persecution are inevitable. It’s there that we become more like Christ.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” -Romans 5: 3-4

Growing in gratitude is a continual process without a specific formula. It takes practice,
mindfulness, honesty, and humility. A spiritually mature person knows that gratitude can absolutely be found in hard places. They know who they are and Whose they are, and they know that nothing on Earth can change those realities. They have a clear-eyed focus on the big picture, which is eternity with God. They live as royal daughters and sons to the King Most High, shining so brightly that others can see Him as they live. They are thankful for the ups and downs, the good days and bad days, knowing that ALL of it is a sheer and glorious gift.

The Sting of Rejection

 

The sting of rejection is painful and it’s real. Just as real as a yellow jack sting, the sting of rejection is painful to our hearts. It can stop us in our tracks. It can stop us from finishing what we set out to do. It can be paralyzing. We writhe and we try to shake the pain but it proves more difficult than that. It does not easily go away. It lingers. 

Why does rejection hurt so bad? 

From the time I was a little girl all I have wanted was to receive recognition and praise. My mother died when I was only three years old. Three years old is a very impressionable age. The typical three-year old is well aware of the fact that they are an individual, yet while trying to assert their individualism and gain more independence all the while they are still very connected and rely on their parent(s) for proving for their basic needs- and to provide protection, comfort, love, and peace.

A little girl eventually grows up but the seeking of recognition and praise does not go away with her advancing age.

We were meant to love and be loved so when we are rejected by the things in this world it hurts. We all have this in common. In this world it is a guarantee that rejection will occur but what does one do when rejection happens?

I was so sweetly reminded tonight in my sorrow and sting of rejection to look at Jesus for the answer. Jesus was rejected by many while on this Earth and even through rejection he carried on and carried out his purpose. He kept his eye on the truth. He was created for a purpose and on purpose by the Creator of the universe. What a sweet reminder. You have a purpose. You are chosen. You are set apart NOT set aside. Your loving Abba sees you. You are recognized. You are known.How could you not be? He formed you in your mother’s womb. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13You have a hand carved place at the table. Do not let the sting of rejection stop you from carrying out your purpose. You matter. The Father is cheering for you and is praising you. He says, ” I see you. I love you. You are my beloved”.Eli Roi(the God who sees me) Genesis 16:13-14. 


There is only One whose option matters. An audience of only One.  Do not let the sting of the world’s rejection stop you from carrying out your purpose. Know that the world will in fact reject you but you are called to carry on and be loved my beloved. 

1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”


Psalm 136:26 “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

All His Love,

Nichole

Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ

All month-long we will be focusing on what else but FREEDOM!!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ” Galatians 5:1

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6

The Holy Spirit recently spoke these verses again to me.  How wonderful that the Holy Spirit  has so much love for us that He will repeat things and use consistency to teach us what He wants us to see and learn.

Studying and meditating on these two verses this is what I came to discover. To stand firm is = immovable, not easily moved; yoke= a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. In this verse the Lord is telling us to stand firm and do not be “yoked” or “connected” to slavery again. We are no longer attached to slavery as Christ broke the chain to slavery and to sin with his bloodshed and resurrection.

I will ask you what the Spirit asked me, “In what areas are you yoked to slavery? In what areas of your life are you still acting as a slave?”

Could it be fear? Fear of man and what others think of you? Or Fear that maybe you are not good enough? Or maybe shame or guilt? Take a minute and ponder these questions.

For me I have held onto fear in many areas of my life. Fear that I will never be able to lose weight, fear that I am not worthy of love because of my weight, fear that I am not good, fear that I will never truly be unconditionally loved. I have also hid behind shame and guilt for things I did in my past. None of this is what the Father had in mind for us. It is for that very reason of freedom that Christ came to set us free. Freedom from ourselves and the way we see and think of our selves and freedom from sin.

Though the seasons of life will change, His love remains. He is so faithful. He comes running when we fall apart. The only thing that is required of us is to receive it. Receive the beautiful gift of love and freedom. A freedom that is only found in Christ.

God continues to show me this everyday. My hope is that anyone who needs to read this,  finds it, and gains some clarity as well.

I ask that you meditate on these verses and ask the Father to show you what He wants you to see and know. Ask Him to show you the areas that you are yoked to slavery in your life. Ask Him to help you gain your freedom and live from that place of freedom.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you so much for loving me enough to sacrifice yourself in order for my freedom. I am in awe of how much love you have for me. Please continue to stretch and challenge me, deepen my roots in knowing who and whose I am so that I am able, eager, willing and delighted in pouring out and expressing my love and faith in you by pouring out and expressing love to others. Please instill a well of joy and love for life and for people inside me so that I may pour out that joy and love to others.

In Jesus’s sweet name,

Amen.