By Natalie Dourte
CrossPointe Winter Park
Winter Park, FL
First, read Psalm 118:19-24
Amidst great joy, our family has been going through a really tough season. It’s a season we get to live out among a loving community, and with the hope and anticipation that all will end well. There is a lot to be thankful for. There is also uncertainty, and loss to grieve.
I’ve found myself wondering how I can bear suffering and injustice with joy and gratitude. Are pain and gratitude mutually exclusive? I don’t think so, but it can be hard to live out.
We are frequently reminded by others to be grateful because “it could be worse.” People say it in lots of different ways, but it always falls flat. Focusing on what could have gone wrong (or what goes wrong for others) doesn’t lift us up.
Others suggest “counting our blessings.” The inverse of focusing on what could go wrong is focusing on what’s going right, right? But there’s no promise (even for believers - especially for believers) that our earthly circumstances will always be hale and well.
If our gratitude only comes from our circumstances, it will always run out. Don’t get me wrong- we should give thanks for our blessings (including the blessing of escaping what could have been). Gratitude is a right and necessary response when things go well; giving thanks gives testimony to the goodness of God. But where does lasting gratitude come from? The kind that we don’t have to talk ourselves into, and yet it’s hard to explain?
Psalm 118 points to the true source of gratitude: entering the presence of the Lord, for he has become our salvation. Jesus invites us in; He is the answer to our cry; He is our champion, our salvation, and the source of gratitude that overflows our hearts.
To be honest, I am more focused on my circumstances than I want to be. I prefer the kind of gratitude that comes when you celebrate tangible victory with outward joy. But I want a deeper, truer gratitude. I want to keep my focus on entering the presence of the Lord, on His salvation becoming my answer, and responding with a heart that overflows.
The more I think about it, the more I see that fighting injustice and bearing suffering are partners of gratitude. Together they are acts and evidence of God bringing His Kingdom here among us. They are making room for His presence, and entering in. They are crying out, and His answer.
Thank you, Jesus, for your salvation.
1. Have you ever experienced a season of suffering and gratitude?
2. What practical ways can you/do you enter into the presence of God?
3. When have you noticed the presence of Christ in your life? How did that affect you?