2018 was one of my most difficult years but also one of the most productive. There were so many winds and waves but Jesus was very present in my boat. In the last few months of the year, I literally got overwhelmed by the storms that were going on around me. I struggled with feelings of being burned out, tired and depressed. Unconsciously, in the mist of the struggle, I let the pressure of the wind create a crack in my soul and the storm began to trickle into me. I remember just been covered by some dark cloud of sadness and hopelessness. I would sleep for long hours, wake up and go right back to sleep in a bid to avoid the reality of the waves around me. Hope became so distant to me, I spent every moment of those months in anxiety waiting for the next wave of a bad report or news to hit me.
After several weeks, It seemed like I was lost in my mind. It was a hard struggle but when I slowly began to find my way out, I suddenly realised that I was already sinking! Unbeknownst to me, with each passing week in those months, I gradually took the eyes of my heart off Jesus. Just like Peter, I began to switch my attention from Jesus to the strong wind and the waves. As expected, I became terrified by the circumstance and began to sink. But I cried out to Jesus to rescue me and am thankful that He did! I remember that very evening on my bed, He began to show me how ungrateful I have been over the years and how my taking many things for granted had led me into a valley of depression and given a foothold to the devil. He showed me how I was too focused on the problems around me and the things I expect to happen that I became blinded to the good and the daily benefits He bestows upon me. This revelation totally broke me down and I cried out to Him for mercy and grace to live a life of gratitude.
Since then till now, its been a constant and daily process of learning gratitude, unlearning ingratitude and relearning every single lesson I have learnt about gratitude from childhood. I decided to start this blog series to share my progress with you and also glean more wisdom from you about gratitude. This year, I and my friends (The RUTH Generation) started a 365-day gratitude challenge. Aside from journaling, We chose to get a Jar (Gratitude Jar) where we would daily write short notes about one or two things that we are grateful for in that specific day. The idea is that the notes would be saved in the jar till the 31st of December 2019 when we would have a Gratitude party to read through the notes and thank God specifically for the daily benefits he granted to us in 2019. Thus far, it has been amazing! The fact that I can find one thing to be thankful for daily, has brought tremendous healing to my heart in these few days! I encourage you to go on this journey with us or come up with a plan or challenge this year that would help you be more intentional about living a life of gratitude.
Gratitude is one major aspect of life that can not be overemphasized. It is that lens that helps you see the beam of light that shimmers through the darkest of life’s valleys. It has the ability to change your perspective and cause you to smile and hope in the mist of a raging storm. No wonder, the Bible tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, for it is God’s will for us who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18-NLT). It is only a thankful heart that can look beyond the gloom and doom and see the growth and glow at the end of the tunnel. Thankfulness is a force that stirs up the rivers of Joy in our belly. Regardless of the circumstance, the will of God is that we give thanks. There’s always something to be thankful for! Your current condition and provision is someone else’s prayer request.
When we begin to count all the blessings in our lives and intentionally express gratitude for them, that’s when we really begin to live. Ingratitude is like a pin that pricks your gratitude balloon and causes your joy to fizzle out! And as believers joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit that gives expression to our salvation. In David’s prayer to God in Psalm 51:12(NLT) he said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you”. Our salvation and redemption comes with the Spirit of joy which gives us the grace and willingness to obey God. The popular scripture John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. What an amazing gift of grace! Even if we find nothing to be thankful for, this alone is enough reason to be thankful. The devil knows that once he attacks our joy, we become ungrateful and in the absence of joy obeying God becomes difficult. But I am thankful that we are not ignorant of he’s devices.
No matter the circumstance you are currently experiencing, I encourage you to arise and find something to be thankful for. Thank God for grace, thank Him for life, thank Him for the things you are expecting, thank him for the opportunity to grow in the mist of a storm, thank him for the strength to go through…..The list can go on and on. Gratitude provides the joy we need to draw from the wells of living water in a time of drought. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3-NIV). I believe once you can access the water of the Word in the mist of any circumstance, your faith will grow and your victory is guaranteed. Begin from today to cultivate a life style of gratitude by expressing your gratitude to God for Grace and for all the things in life that money can not buy; you would be amazed about the limitless and priceless benefits that God daily loads into your life!
Thank you for reading, we would delve deeper into the subject of gratitude in the subsequent parts of this series. Until then, I Love you! Stay firm in the Father’s Love.
“Count Your Blessings”
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
Song writers- Johnson Oatman, Jr., E. O. Excell