As the last post for May, I just wanted to take a moment to get into some of what the bible says or presents regarding gratitude. I want to go into some bible stories.
LEPER (LUKE 17:12-19)
Leprosy was a serious thing back in the day. It was so contagious that lepers were not permitted to engage in society. Not even a little bit. They couldn’t go to synagogue. They couldn’t be with their families. They couldn’t even get a hug. And because of that, it mattered not who was Jew or Samaritan… or any other prejudices because they had been cast out from mainstream society.
In this story, we have ten lepers that Jesus healed on their way to go to the priest. Only one leper recognized what had happened and he wasn’t a Jew. He was a foreigner and a Samaritan. He knew his status, and in spite of that, he went back to Jesus to thank Him. The bible says he fell on his face. He was overcome by what Jesus had done for him; His whole life had been given back to him, just by being healed of a disease.
Today we don’t physically throw people out of society for having a disease, so maybe the significance of the story is lost on us. But one of the simplest things we can do to show gratitude is to just say thank you. Out of 10 lepers, only one went back to say thank you Jesus. Let’s be part of the 10% of the afflicted who say thank you when healed.
Ruth (THE ENTIRE BOOK OF RUTH)
Before I get into the story, I want to make a shameless plug for my own biological father’s book on the story of Ruth. And remember, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can find his book here:
Now that we’re done with that, the story of Ruth is very incredible. First of all, I would’ve left Naomi long ago. Secondly, I think it’s very rare for people to convert to another faith or travel away from their families for a stranger, and it was even rarer in those times. Then when given the opportunity to go back to her life as it was, Ruth is like no thanks, your people are my people and your God is my God now. If that isn’t an expression of living out life in gratitude to God and to others’ faithfulness towards us, I don’t know what is. The other thing is without Ruth, Naomi would’ve died. The sole source of economic stability for women back in those times was marriageability. Naomi’s days for remarrying were over and she might have been able to survive on people’s charity, but most likely she would have died. So Ruth’s gratitude was lifesaving. She also expressed gratitude to Boaz; the bible said she fell on her face—- like the leper earlier. Seems like gratitude involved a lot of falling on your face.
Let’s not throw people under the bus or leave them to die today. While you may think that’s extreme, it’s not. Today there are many without what they need to survive— many of whom are in very close proximity to you: either family or friends or geographically. I think one of the greatest lessons of the pandemic is that we need community for survival. Gratitude also means helping others and allowing yourself to be helped.
DANIEL (Daniel 6)
Let’s talk about Daniel. Daniel’s faithfulness to God was so famous that people set a trap for him. They knew that he openly talked to God three times a day facing a direction with windows open. They set him up.
Daniel remained steadfast. He knowingly broke a law the next day when he continued his prayer routine. He could have done it in secret. He could’ve been like you know what the king has been kind to me, let me not offend him. He did not do any of that.
Let’s not let our gratitude for others get in the way of our gratitude toward God. Let’s not let our fear of others get in the way of our relationship with God. Let’s go out and be blessed, and engage in a life of gratitude.
This past weekend was my birthday so I took a little break for my birthday from posting. But one of the greatest tenants of living in gratitude is to actively encourage yourself. Most of the negative scripts that subconsciously run through our minds and break us away from the path of gratitude are actually brought to us by friends and family. Sometimes we have to close our ears and guard our minds and hearts.
I’m reminded of the Tri-City Singers & Donald Lawrence’s song “Encourage Yourself.” The lyrics of the second verse are: Sometimes you (sometimes you) have to encourage yourself/Gotta pat your own self on the back, yeah, yeah/Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test/And no matter how you feel (no matter how you feel)/Speak the word over your life, oh, oh/Speak the word, and you will be healed (you will be healed)/Speak over yourself (speak over yourself)/Encourage yourself (encourage yourself) in the Lord.
So today I wanted to talk about some practical tips to engage in encouraging yourself.
Encouragement on a monthly basis
One of the ways we can encourage ourselves on a monthly basis is by engaging in reflection. What’s different about this month than last month? The issue with this kind of open-ended reflection is it may cause you to reflect on the negative things. You may consider all the mistakes you made instead of all the wins. This is why I have a google drive encouragement folder. This folder contains the compliments & words of encouragement others have made to uplift me throughout the month or even years prior. It is helpful to be reminded of who I am. Record the good so that you can remind yourself.
Encouragement on a weekly basis
Engage in weekly record keeping. For me, this means I have a weekly work journal. What are my work wins for the week? What did I accomplish? I also have a weekly spiritual journal. What are my spiritual wins for the week? What did Pastor say this week that’s giving me life that I need to carry with me this week? I also engage in weekly habit tracking. Did I take 10,000 steps every single day this week? Awesome. Did I read a whole book? Cool.
Encouragement on a daily basis
God is my refuge and strength. In order for me to walk in that, believe that, and practice that, I need to have contact with God. My prayer life looks different on different days. If I can spend a whole hour with God, praying aloud and singing in my studio apartment, that’s awesome. If all I can do is pull up Jireh on Spotify and listen to it while I read a single devotional on the Bible app, that’s ok. What’s been giving me some life these days is prayer journaling. I spend part of my morning praying on the page. I think this helps me start the day in a place of confidence and not in a place of scarcity and anxiety.
I just wanted to share what’s on the inside cover of my spiritual journal. It’s basically a list of affirmations that come from the bible. I thought I should share so that it would help someone. It also helps me to write out the verses and read them aloud.
I’m loved (John 3:16 ) (John 15:9)
I’m saved (Romans 10:9-10)
I’m not alone (Joshua 1:9) ( Psalms 121:5)
I can’t do anything to make me unloveable (Romans 8:38, 39)
I’m a member of the household of God (Ephesians 2: 19) (Acts 17:28)
I’m joined in life union with Jesus (Romans 8:1)
My weakness is a portal to God’s power (2 Cor 12:10)
I’m protected (Psalms 121:5) (Psalm 91)
I’m being guided (Isaiah 30:20-21)
I have wisdom (James 1:5-6)
I am free (2 Cor 3:17)
I know what it is to have need and to have plenty ( Phil 4:12)
I am God’s house have the lives here (1 Cor 6:19)
I am God’s work of Art (Ephesians 2:10)
I am forgiven (1 John 1 :9)
I was cared for before I got here (1 Peter 1:10)
I’m the light of the world. I’m meant to stand out (Matthew 5:14)
Since our topic for the week is gratitude and praise, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite gospel songs: J Moss’ Praise on the Inside. My favorite lyric is “ There’s a praise on the inside that I can’t keep to myself/ A halle- stirring up from the depths of my soul”
Don’t take my word for it and go listen for yourself.
And remember, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Gratitude seems all fun and dandy until we’re going through a dark night of the soul–until fear or despair gets a grip on us and we can’t seem to think of anything else. I’m not talking about clinical depression or any psychological illness. I’m talking about grief or short-term sadness from an event or the bit of anxiety when we’re gearing up to have a big milestone. Sometimes it’s just hard to be grateful.
This is why it’s so important to already have a gratitude practice in place. When you are gloomy or thinking about how you need a nuclear saferoom because you’re afraid the world will end– you should just follow through with your gratitude routine. So go ahead and form the habit. Start a Friday night text thread gratitude list with your bestie. Write every morning or evening in a gratitude journal. Take a break during your workday to be grateful for what’s happened so far during the day. Use your lunch break as a gratitude break.
Life is not linear; there are ebbs and flows. There are mountains and valleys. Having healthy habits in place that soothe your spirit will help you find your way. This is not one of those just do it or fake it till you make it strategies. . This is just a practice of reflection on what is good in your life. It could be something simple. Like I had two meals today. Someone gave me a compliment. My coffee was delicious. My shoes are really comfortable. Small wins are still wins. And being grateful for where we are and what we are experiencing can only beget even better fruit.