It’s November! The season of gratitude and thanksgiving. It seems no matter where we turn we are reminded to be grateful, give thanks and rejoice in the blessings God has given us.
But in the blur known as the “holiday season” which starts the minute Halloween ends, if we are not careful, we can get caught in the whirlwind of all the preparations. When that happens we miss what really matters and our gratitude goes out the window as we stress over the details and chaos.
How do you define gratitude? What exactly is it? Is it a warm fuzzy feeling as you count your blessings or is it something more?
Experiencing a sense of gratitude means you have been focusing on thoughts of appreciation for the abundance in your life.
You are not born with it. It is something you learn and cultivate as you go through life. It is a conscious and purposeful decision to focus on life’s blessings, and it is a sense of joy and appreciation in response to what you receive be it concrete or abstract.
But would it surprise you if I told you there are different levels of gratitude?
Ordinary gratitude is something most of us practice. It is reactive and often superficial. For example, saying thank you after receiving a gift or when someone holds a door open for you. Or saying grace before we eat. Maybe even waving your hand in thanks when someone lets you merge into traffic.
These are all good things, and we should express this kind of gratitude every day. But there is another level of gratitude we all have the opportunity to practice.
We call the next level exceptional gratitude. Exceptional gratitude is intentional, proactive and remarkable. It moves beyond being grateful for the obvious and observable. It allows you to perceive the mustard seed of potential in every situation and move toward giving thanks for the smallest things.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
Exceptional gratitude also involves appreciating and treasuring other people.
As we come together to prepare for and celebrate Thanksgiving, this year let’s remember that exceptional gratitude is a lifestyle, not just a holiday.
Living a lifestyle of exceptional gratitude requires intentionality.
“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything he has given us and he has given everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of his love. Every moment of existence is a grace for it brings with it immense graces from him. Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God for the grateful person knows that God is good not by hearsay but by experience and that is what makes all the difference.” – Thomas Merton
If you are like me, you want to develop a lifestyle of exceptional gratitude. But as much as we want to live a life of exceptional gratitude we can’t just flip a switch or push a button and make it happen. We have to cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude.
I like how author Nancy Leigh DeMoss says in in her book Choosing Joy; “The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment. It is the fruit of a thousand choices.”
So what is the key to cultivate it? Well, it starts with spending time with Jesus just being thankful. No rules or formulas or checklists. Just Jesus.
Sarah Young shares a way of doing this from the Lord’s perspective in her book Jesus Calling. “Let Me teach you thankfulness. The dawning of each new day is a gift from Me, not to be taken for granted. The secret of being thankful is learning to see everything from My perspective.”
“Oh LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” – Psalm 30:12
So as we enter November let’s focus on Jesus and let the gratitude flow.
Leave a comment and let us know: Have you given thanks to God for the blessings that surround you? How will you intentionally spend time with Jesus this month?