Radical Gratitude

And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].
John 1:5, AMP*

This is the verse that strengthened me after the terrorist attacks of 9-11. It’s the same verse that’s echoed in my spirit these past few Christmas seasons, each one leaving me more aware of the darkness in our communities and our world.

We think Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of year. But the darkness is why Jesus came. Israel of 2,000 years past was a pretty dark place, I’m sure, much like today.

His presence—Immanuel, God with us—still makes the difference.

As I’ve prayed for the people and situations nearest to my heart this season, at first the darkness was too much. This young girl—that young family—this elderly woman and her family… where they’re walking is unbearable. They’ve been heavy on my heart, and weighing down my spirit as I prayed. Reciting John’s words about Light in the darkness wasn’t helping.

A few days before Christmas God blew away the fog and let me see: I hadn’t been demanding why of God—that never ends well—but my discontent about what He had allowed said I didn’t think very highly of His management.

Judging God also doesn’t end well. And discontent is poison. Confession, forgiveness, and a fresh start work wonders, though.

Now I’m praying the same verse, but looking at the Light, practicing what Mark Buchanan calls “radical gratitude.”

Thanking God for what He will do in these people’s lives, instead of being dragged down by where they’ve been. Trusting that whatever His plans are, they’re for good. Not just praying for things to get better but for people to be made new and others to see the difference He makes.

Sovereign and holy God, who doesn’t tend to fix things, I praise You for how instead You re-create or make new. And the new is better. Stronger. Useful in Your hand. You waste nothing. Help us trust You. Show us how to pray in radical gratitude and praise, confident in our trust in You. Shine brighter in our darkness, until all will see Your glory.

Permit me one last Christmas song of the year: catch the hope and the assurance in the words to “Joy to the World,” especially verses 3 and 4.

*Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

5 thoughts on “Radical Gratitude

  1. Margaret

    Your post speaks to what I was thinking about yesterday in Isaiah 45:9 — “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker — An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?”…….

    There is so much we are totally unable to understand, but our Lord can be trusted to do all things well. There is faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is love. The greatest commandment is that we love God above all and the second is that we love our neighbor. All this fits into God’s plan. We’ll see the completed miracle in heaven and understand.

    Happy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Janet Sketchley

      So true, Margaret, thanks for adding this. One of my goals for this year is to be more intentional in remembering WHO it is I trust, so that I can really trust Him.

      God bless you richly in 2012 (He will).

      Reply
  2. ginnyjaques

    These thoughts so helped me this morning, Janet. Our vision is so short-sighted. I want to be able to look beyond the immediate “impossible” situations to see that God is making something even better out of them. He is triumphant, even when He allows us to make choices that are not always right, with consequences that are dark. Things sometimes have to get worse before they get better.

    Reply
  3. stephseclecticinterests

    I realized last night that I haven’t been worshiping as I ought – deliberately and often. Thank you for challenging me to develop radical gratitude. God is worthy. He sees the Big Picture, while we only see the tiniest of piece of it.

    Bless you, my friend, throughout 2012…and beyond.

    Reply
    1. Janet Sketchley

      I think worship means a whole lot more than we tend to remember. It’s not just singing or praising, it’s that intentional attitude of the heart. All the time. I’m re-reading Brother Lawrence’s Practising His Presence and the call is so appealing… and my remembrance of it so short! But all we can do is start where we are and ask for His grace.

      Reply

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