Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude.
In his book The Holy Wild, pastor Mark Buchanan writes about an experience he had in a worship service in Uganda. He recalls that everyone else was participating in the service, but he was too upset to join in. In his words, “The music sounded squawky. I was miffed at someone on our missions team. I found the food bland, tasteless. I was feeling deprived and misunderstood. I found the joy of others hollow. I was miserable and I wanted to wallow in it.” Then the pastor of that church asked if anyone had something to share. One woman stood up and shouted, “Oh, I love Jesus so much!” “Tell us, sister,” the congregation shouted back. “Where do I begin to tell of how good He is to me?” the woman asked. “Begin right there, sister,” the congregation shouted. The woman explained that for three months she had prayed to God for shoes. “And look!” she said, showing one of her feet. “He gave me shoes!” The people in the Ugandan church cheered and whistled. They praised God loudly. “But not me,” Mark said. “I was devastated. I sat there broken and grieving. In an instant, God snapped me out of my self-pity and plunged me into repentance. In all my life, I had not once prayed for shoes. It never even crossed my mind. And in all my life, I had not even once thanked God for the many, many shoes I had.” Thanklessness becomes its own prison. And gratitude is the key that frees you from the prison of thanklessness and the prison of more. Regularly express gratitude to God.
May I share with you a secret? It is impossible to be depressed and grateful at the same time. You simply can’t do it. If pastors ever think about resigning, they do it on Monday morning. And it’s understandable. I tell you, when you’ve gone through the physical exhaustion of preaching and the spiritual outpouring on Sunday, you’re completely depleted on Monday.
About a year ago, I was feeling particularly low on a Monday morning and wondering what I was doing and why I was doing it. So I pulled out my laptop and composed a prayer to the Lord. In that prayer, I started thanking God for everything He has done for me. I thanked Him for my wife, Amy. For my daughters, Julia and Dorothy. For the wonderful church He has allowed me to serve. For the great ministry opportunities He has given me. For my health and all the many blessings in my life. And I’m telling you, as I kept expressing gratefulness to God for all these blessings, my depression evaporated. You cannot be depressed and grateful at the same time.
Many of you have heard of Matthew Henry, whose commentary on the Bible bears his name. One time Matthew Henry was robbed on his way home. That’s pretty depressing to get robbed. But that night, before he went to bed, he took out his diary and wrote these words: “Let me be thankful—first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.”
You see, a key to maintaining joy and living above your circumstances is to be overcome with gratitude. That’s why Paul had joy: he had a grateful heart, regularly expressing gratitude for God’s blessings.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Outrageous Joy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Quote from Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2003), 106-107.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.