A Life of Gratitude
Jesus gave thanks in advance: “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves (Matthew 14:17–1).
There were only five loaves of bread and two fish—not enough to feed 5,000 men (plus women and children), yet Jesus looked up to heaven and gave thanks. Granted, He knew that He was about to perform yet another miracle and feed all the people, but the crowd did not know that “little” piece of information. He gave thanks to His Father for the five loaves and two fish—in advance. I see it as an example to us to be thankful for what we currently have and also an encouragement to trust in God for all our future concerns.
Jesus gave thanks for the bread that represented His broken body! He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Jesus knew what He was about to suffer for the redemption of mankind and could still thank God for the bread that represented His suffering. Amazing!
However, one could argue that Jesus is God and we are not. Consequently:
- He knew the future (i.e., the bigger picture.)
- He planned this event (the betrayal, cross, and resurrection) from eternity past.
- He knew that justice would be served in the end.
- He also knew that mankind would be redeemed with salvation being offered.
It is true that Jesus is God and we are not! However, we have several gifts from God to aid us in ensuring gratitude no matter what comes our way.
- We have the Holy Spirit living inside us.
- We have the mind of Christ.
- We have a Book that tells us the future. (BTW—God wins!)
- We have a promise from our eternal, all-powerful God that justice will be served.
- We have experienced the power of salvation via Jesus’ redeeming death and resurrection.
- We have absolutely unlimited access to talk to the God of the universe!
The Apostle Paul seemed to have caught on to the concept of living a life of gratitude. The following is the story of how Paul and his fellow shipmates were being tossed about in a storm to the point of despair: When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved (Acts 27:20). Then before they found land and before they were safe: Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food.” … After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves (Acts 27:33–36).
By the way, Paul was a prisoner on that ship and was on his way to Rome to go on trial for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was a mere human and yet had the ability to tap into God’s power and be thankful even in the midst of a frightening future.
What are some benefits of living a life of gratitude?
Perspective — Our deepest gratitude always goes toward God. Circumstances fail us. People fail us. God never fails us. Therefore, when we look toward heaven with grateful hearts, truly see who He really is, understand all He has done for us, and grasp what a miracle it is that He chose us to be His children—then we can lift ourselves out of our circumstances and find godly perspective.
Peace — Once we have perspective, peace usually follows. There is nothing more calming than the Truth of God’s Word. When we clear our minds of all the “junk” and truly let His Word penetrate into our minds and hearts, it honestly has a calming effect in our hearts.
Pleasing God — Of course, a heart of gratitude pleases God immensely, just like a parent feels when their child both sees and says thanks for what the parent has done for their precious child.
The gifts God has given us enable us to have an intimate relationship with our Father. Hopefully, we can also tap into them to live a life of gratitude as well. That is my prayer for my life as I walk this journey called “Life Overseas.”
Scripture references NIV1984 [emphases added]
Question to consider: What are some of the benefits you see of living a life of gratitude?
About the author
Elisabeth Marie is married with three children. She served in Africa from 1997-2010 and SE Asia from 2010-2016. She is passionate about encouraging cross-cultural workers in various ways. First term: adjusting, mom/wife and office manager at an international school. Second term: started/managed a retreat home for overseas workers and facilitated Bible studies. Third term: started a salon for women serving cross-culturally (1 1/2 years) then moved to SE Asia and had a salon, facilitated studies, did a couple of "office" projects, provided hospitality for global servants and wrote a couple of books on member care. She greatly respects cross-cultural workers and desires to serve them in multiple ways (as God leads).View all articles by: Elisabeth Marie
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