• Topic > Christian Living > Gratefulness & Thankfulness >

    When Life Is Hard

    Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I curled up in my recliner. Our family had followed God’s leading and had moved from California to Wisconsin. After we arrived, car broke down and left us without a vehicle for two months. Meanwhile, my husband’s limited mobility after an unexpected back surgery and my increasing chronic pain complicated our unpacking. We uncovered costly problems with our new-to-us, old home. Our senior dog suffered with high-maintenance health issues. And though our new pup brought me great joy, raising a furry ball of energy was far more work than I anticipated. My attitude soured. How…

    Full Attention

    Technology today seems to demand our constant attention. The modern “miracle” of the internet (now easily accessible via the smartphone) gives us the amazing capacity to access humanity’s collective learning in the palm of our hand. But for many, such constant access can come at a cost.

    Writer Linda Stone has coined the phrase “continual partial attention” to describe the modern impulse to always need to know what’s happening ‘out there,’ to make sure we’re not missing anything. If that sounds like it could produce chronic anxiety, you’re right!

    Although the apostle Paul struggled with different reasons for anxiety, he knew that…

    Life to the Full

    The year was 1918, near the end of World War I, and photographer Eric Enstrom was putting together a portfolio of his work. He wanted to include one that communicated a sense of fullness in a time that felt quite empty to so many people. In his now much-loved photo, a bearded old man sits at a table with his head bowed and his hands clasped in prayer. On the surface before him there is only a book, spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife. Nothing more, but also nothing less.

    Some might say the photograph…

    Attitude of Gratitude

    Here in Michigan, the winters can be brutal, with sub-zero temperatures and never-ending snow. One bitterly cold day, as I shoveled snow for what seemed like the thousandth time, our postman paused in his rounds to ask how I was doing. I told him that I disliked winter and was weary of all the heavy snow. I then commented that his job must be pretty rough during these extreme weather conditions. He responded, “Yeah, but at least I have a job,” he said. “A lot of people don’t. I’m thankful to be working.”

    I have to admit that I felt quite…

    Don’t Forget the Giver

    It was just before Christmas, and her kids were having a difficult time with gratitude. In other words, they were pretty much “give me” instead of “thank you.” She knew how easy it was to slip into that kind of thinking—what with all the commercialism of the season. But she also knew she wanted something better for the hearts of her children. So she went through the house and placed a bright red bow on light switches, the pantry and refrigerator doors, the washing machine and dryer, and the water faucets. With each bow there was a handwritten note: “Some…

    A Sincere Thank You

    In preparation for Xavier’s first job interview, my husband, Alan, handed our son a pack of thank you cards for him to send out after he met with prospective employers. He then pretended to be a hiring interviewer, using his decades of experience as a manager to ask Xavier relevant questions. After a few rounds of role-playing, our son tucked several copies of his resume into a folder. He smiled when Alan reminded him about the cards. “I know,” he said. “A sincere thank you note will set me apart from all the other applicants.”

    When the manager called to hire…

    Ending Envy

    The famous French artist Edgar Degas is remembered worldwide for his paintings of ballerinas. Less known is the envy he expressed of his friend and artistic rival Édouard Manet, another master painter. Said Degas of Manet: “Everything he does he always hits off straightaway, while I take endless pains and never get it right.”

    It’s a curious emotion, envy—listed by the apostle Paul among the worst passions, as bad “as every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip” (Romans 1:29 nlt). It results from “foolish thinking,” Paul writes—the result of worshiping idols instead of…

    Borrowed Blessings

    As we bowed our heads over lunch, my friend Jeff prayed: “Father, thank you for letting us breathe your air and eat your food.” Jeff had just been through a difficult job loss, so his heartfelt trust in God and recognition that everything belongs to the Lord profoundly moved me. I found myself asking: Do I honestly understand that even the most basic, everyday things in my life are really God’s, and He’s just letting me use them?

    When King David received offerings from the people of Israel for building the temple in Jerusalem, he prayed, “But who am I, and who…

    No Comparison

    “One of these days I’m going to put it all on Facebook—not just the good stuff!

    My friend Sue’s comment—made casually over lunch with her husband—caused me to laugh out loud and also to think. Social media can be a good thing, helping us stay in touch with and pray for friends across the years and miles. But if we’re not careful, it can also create an unrealistic outlook on life. When much of what we see posted is a “highlight reel” of “the good stuff,” we can be misled into thinking others’ lives are without trouble, and wonder where our…

    In Abundance or Affliction

    Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts encourages readers to search their lives daily for what the Lord has done for them. In it, she daily notes God’s abundant generosity to her in gifts both large and small, ranging from the simple beauty of iridescent bubbles in the dish sink to the incomparable salvation of sinners like herself (and the rest of us!). Ann contends that gratitude is the key to seeing God in even the most troubling of life’s moments.

    Job is famous for a life of such “troubling” moments. Indeed, his losses were deep and many. Just moments after losing all…

    Mosaic of Beauty

    Sitting in the courtyard of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel, I was overwhelmed with the beautiful display of 67 mosaics containing the words of Luke 1:46–55 in as many languages. Traditionally known as the Magnificat from the Latin “to magnify,” these verses are Mary’s joyous response to the announcement that she will be the mother of the Messiah.

    Each plaque contains Mary’s words, including: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. . . . For the Mighty One has done great things for me” (vv. 46–49). The biblical hymn etched in the…

    “My Rainbow in the Cloud”

    I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. —Genesis 9:13

    It is the will of God that human beings should get into a right-standing relationship with Him, and His covenants are designed for this purpose. Why doesn’t God save me? He has accomplished and provided for my salvation, but I have not yet entered into a relationship with Him. Why…

    Have You Taken Time to Say Thank You?

    Read: Luke 17:17-18   Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”

    When I asked the late John Stott what he considered to be the greatest problem in the church, he gave a one-word answer—superficiality. I agree with him. Connected to the epidemic of superficiality…

    Thanks for Being You!

    When I served as my mom’s live-in caregiver at a cancer center, I got to know Lori, another caregiver who lived down the hallway from us with her husband, Frank. I would chat, laugh, vent, cry, and pray with Lori in the shared living areas. We enjoyed supporting each other as we cared for our loved ones.

    One day, I missed the free shuttle that took residents to buy groceries. Lori offered to drive me to the store later that evening. With grateful tears, I accepted her offer. “Thanks for being you,” I said. I truly appreciated her for who she…

    Honoring The Sabbath And Restoring The Soul

    Most days, we pack our schedules so tight there’s barely enough time to eat. Yet, God urges us to set aside intentional time for rest and relaxation. Today on Discover the Word, the team, and special guest Jeff Manion explore how honoring the principle of Sabbath can help us live a faithful life. Join us […]

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