My Life with God

Upside Down Gratitude, Part Six

I know God wants me to access gratitude every moment of my life. It is part of my relationship with him. But I also know I’m going to struggle with it at times because life is hard sometimes. And I know I’m going to overlook gratitude at times because I get distracted and don’t keep as focused and disciplined as possible. I don’t say that to be hard on myself but to be authentic. I waste time. I get discouraged. I respond poorly. I have a poor attitude. I try not to let those things stick around too long or define me. I also try not to be too hard on myself when I realize those things and get on a better path. When I acknowledge my detours and distractions and deal with them well as I move forward on a better path, I find God weaves some lessons and purposes from the muddy ditches I’ve meandered into onto the grassy paths that seem to be a bit more beautiful. I’ve found mud on my walking shoes more than once when I haven’t been in mud for quite a while.

Gratitude is one of the things that God uses among the many paths we take. But we have to value it enough to choose it even when we’re confused and upside down.

Gratitude overflows from our faith. 

When we think of an overflow, we probably think of a cup. Water gets poured into it, and if there is more than the cup can hold, it overflows. If whomever is pouring continues to pour, there’s a constant overflow. But God isn’t pouring into us quite like that. He is pouring into us from the inside. He fills us up from the inside.

Any illustration is going to be limited in comparison to the real thing, but consider a fountain, the kind that is often in a park. It has multiple layers or bowls that fill with water. The water source isn’t seen. Sure, rain contributes to the fountain water, or you could pour a pitcher of water into one bowl, but the consistent water comes from underneath.

God fills us up from the inside, and he abundantly provides. We certainly create some clogs that slow down the flow, but that is on us. We affect our access to God’s provision, but that doesn’t mean he lessens it. It also doesn’t mean just because we don’t have what we think we need or get the result we ask God for that we have done something wrong or he is being mean. It’s more complicated than that. When we grow a healthy faith, it’s something we do with God, and it’s something we do during abundance and need. It’s something we do on the beautiful days when the water gurgles and bubbles and people play around it and sit and enjoy the sunshine beside it. And it’s something we do on the stormy days when leaves and sticks blow into the bowls and create goopy, dark water and no one is around.

Just because no one is around to experience the fountain doesn’t mean the water ceases to flow. Just because the fountain looks beautiful and refreshing doesn’t mean there isn’t corrosion deep within that will eventually affect the beauty. And there is gratitude in every day.

We get to recognize it or not. We get to savor it or not. We get to let it flow through us or not. Because gratitude is not just for us. It’s for others, too. Gratitude reflects God’s character. It encourages others’ faith. When gratitude is authentic, it reflects healthy faith, and that’s something each of us can constantly develop.

Gratitude is daily just as faith is. There are ebbs and flows to it. It should never become stagnant, and the movement can be challenging, tiresome, and uncertain. Gratitude is an expression and it is a discipline.

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