Thanksgiving will soon be upon us. And yes, most of us will be mindful that it’s a good time to bust out with the things that we are thankful for. Now pass the turkey.
But, what I want to talk about here is more than annual thankfulness. I want to challenge you to use a technique…a weapon…that can make gratitude a meaningful constant in your life.
Feeling down? Frustrated? Glass half full or even empty? Discouraged? Depressed? Tired of the fight? Feeling less than, worthless, worn out? Been doing so well, but now you’re just beaten down? Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?
Are you under the weather or maybe even under the Enemy’s attack?
Then I have a challenge for you.
First of all, resist the seductiveness of being pulled under. Resolve to be active in repelling the wave that is coming. Find a quiet place to be alone for awhile. Take out a pen and some paper. Take a deep breath. And write a Gratitude List.
That’s right. Physically write down 10 things that you are grateful for. (Okay, use your iPhone Notepad if you must.) Go beyond thinking about it, get it out of your head, and physically execute a written list in some way.
And make it 10 things. Not two, not six. Ten. As you’re thinking and writing invite God to join you. Thank Him for each and every item you write down. Ask Him to help you think of more if you slow down. Tell Jesus that it is He who you are grateful to for blessing you with the items on your list. List the big thing for sure, but be mindful of the little things too.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Here’s what’s going to happen. As you add each item to your list you’re going to feel better. By the time you get halfway through your list you’re going to feel the sadness lifting and the clouds separating. As you approach the end you’re going to feel the sun rise in your heart and the darkness fade away. It’s virtually impossible for the things that are weighing you down to survive and oppress you under the shining light of gratitude to God.
Like the rising sun burning off a morning fog, gratitude to God is a powerful antidote to the depressive confusion the Enemy loves to bring us down with.
I dare you to do it and not feel better.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
The Enemy loves to find your vulnerable spots, tear into them, and get you feeling bad about yourself. The Enemy loves when you are feeling unworthy. The Enemy absolutely hates when you’re feeling grateful. When you call upon Jesus to compel the Devil to flee, he runs. Gratitude rallies the call.
I learned this “technique” of physically connecting with and writing down your gratitude list when I needed it most. There was a time in my life several years ago when I knew nothing but despair on a daily basis. The days were dark and the nights were darker. I was enslaved by addiction and locked in a prison of my own creation.
During the course of my escape from this prison, I was opening up my heart to a friend and he challenged me to make a Gratitude List. Later on, when I came to know Christ, I focused the Gratitude List with specific thankfulness to God, and the result was striking.
I’m perfectly aware that there are such things as serious clinical depression that require professional care. But, that doesn’t mean this doesn’t help. That doesn’t mean this doesn’t lessen your burden. And keep in mind one very important thing. God can and does deliver us from our problems, our doubts, our fears, and yes, even our gravest illnesses. This technique may not cure you, but it opens a window in your heart for God’s grace to shine in. And God can and does cure you.
If you find this effective for you, take it to the next level. Start keeping a Gratitude Journal. Do a new list every day, week, month, whatever works. Compare your lists over time to see the things that you have grown to be grateful for and to not lose track of the ones you’ve felt before. Use your list as a bookmark in your Bible. Challenge a friend to make a list and compare lists.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The important thing is that a Gratitude List is a connection with the love and grace of God. You’d be surprised at how many things you can find to be grateful for and how being mindful of them builds a grateful heart. Making these lists is a prayerful experience and another great way of talking to and showing your love for a gracious God.
I still use it today when I feel overwhelmed by the dark. It’s funny, but the longer I travel on my Christian walk and the closer I strive to be to my God, the more the Enemy seems to have taken interest. I use this “technique” like a sword to compel him to flee from the battle.
It works. Try it. I dare you.
And Happy Thanksgiving.