The more you speak words of gratitude and praise Me for the good things in your life, the more you’ll develop a positive outlook, even about things you’re tempted to feel negative about. The more you cultivate a positive outlook, the more you will realize that I can use all things in your life to work together for good, to be a blessing to you in some way, and to help you to learn something important or gain a new skill.
As followers of Jesus, “grateful” should be our default setting when we consider that Jesus died to redeem us from an eternity of being separated from God. This should put a spring in our step and cause all the not-so-great stuff to bounce off as irrelevant. But I tend to succumb to less-than-grateful reactions, because, well, traffic, mess, stress, too little of this, too much of that. You know how it goes.
As a child, I had a lazy eye and blurred vision, which made it necessary for me to wear glasses from the time I was seven years old. In order to keep my myopia from worsening, I had strict limits on my reading—no reading at night, and any reading only allowed when sitting at a desk with a bright desk lamp and proper posture. Watching television or movies was something that had to be minimized, along with other eye-straining hobbies, such as painting, sewing, and crafts.
Occasionally I teach a Bible class at Sunday school for three- to five-year-olds. The group is very small, sometimes only four or five children. One of the girls, a frequent visitor, is very smart, outspoken, and strong-willed. On one recent occasion, she was refusing to come to class because her hair was messy, but she wouldn’t let her mother brush her hair because her mom forgot her favorite pink hairbands. I found pink ribbons in the arts and crafts box, and she graciously allowed me to braid her hair.
I can´t remember how to spell that word! How do I express this idea correctly? I can’t seem to get my thoughts onto the paper!
I was seeing how rusty my writing was. I hadn’t had much opportunity to order my thoughts into written paragraphs since my school days, and I was facing the obviously poor consequences. Then I remembered how much I’d enjoyed a creative writing course in college.
Becoming more Christlike is about becoming a better Christian through a more committed application of the Bible, coupled with the guidance and grace of the Holy Spirit. This application of Scripture cuts two ways. First, it calls for doing away with ungodliness, for resisting and overcoming sin as much as possible. Second, it calls for us to put on Christ,1 to embrace the godly virtues spoken of in Scripture, and live in a manner that strengthens these virtues within our lives.
I was inspired the other day when I read some personal accounts on a friend’s blog on the subject of praising God for His goodness in spite of daily problems and annoyances.
Generally, I’m a thankful person. I post inspirational stories on my blog or send them to friends and family by email to share with them the good things that happen in my life. Still, after all these years, I wasn’t in the habit of praising God for even the “bad” things—”giving thanks always for all things to God.”1 I also wasn’t in the habit of looking for the good in everything.
You may have heard about the miracle berry, which is an amazing little red berry found in West Africa that causes sour foods, like citrus fruit or hot sauce, to taste sweet. One woman who tried the miracle berry wrote, “Sinking my teeth into the lemon, I braced myself to wince at the sour, citric tang that would inevitably assault my taste buds. But, almost unbelievably, there was not a hint of bitterness. The acidic fruit tasted as sweet as lemon meringue pie. The sensation was surreal, as if I were sampling the result of some worrying genetic modification. Yet it was 100 percent natural, the incredible effect of the ‘miracle berry’.”1