Janelle Hail I am Second video.
Janelle’s story shows us the power of gratitude. She said:
“I looked at my hands and held them out saying, “Thank you, God, that I have two hands to work for you. I have two feet to go where you want me to go. I have a mouth to speak for you.” At that moment, gratitude overtook me and erased the scar on my heart.” – Janelle Hail Founder/CEO of National Breast Cancer Foundation
We need that. We need gratitude to overtake our heart to heal our wounds.
I want you to think about this. What kind of world do you live in? This week is Thanksgiving. Is your family or extended family grateful? The people you work with, are they grateful? How about church? Are the people you go to church with, the people you volunteer with, are they grateful? Is your neighbor, your boss, your friends at school, are they grateful?
Here is a question. Does your spouse focus on all that you do well and celebrate you? Or, do they focus on what is wrong and point out how you don’t measure up? How do you treat your spouse? Do you celebrate them? When you walk into the room, do you bring them joy and energy? Or, do you focus on where they are failing? I didn’t say you can’t address real issues, I am talking about the big picture.
The natural default setting in most people, is to be ungrateful and negative. That’s easy. It’s so common, that when you find a gracious person, they stand out – don’t they? It’s so rare, you might even conclude, they are weird.
What happens when we are negative and do nothing to be grateful people? We allow negativity to rule our life and our emotions. We make excuses as to why we can’t change. We act like we are helpless, almost like we are a prisoner, a victim. Deep down, we know we could make a change, but we are lazy. It’s so much easier to be ungrateful and negative. And, when you hang around other negative people, it’s enjoyable because they validate us. They make us feel like we are normal.
What happens in our lives if we continue to be lazy and do nothing to be gracious? What’s in our hearts comes out into life. Here are a couple of traits that show up. Let’s talk about four of them.
An ungrateful person is quick to point out the faults of others. It comes out in being negative, critical and gossipy. The condition of their hearts comes out onto others and it wears people out. To have this person as a parent, boss or leader is rough. They can only seem to focus on what is wrong. To volunteer with someone like this, it is so draining.
An ungrateful person is reluctant to help others and build them up. If they don’t like themselves, how would they ever be able to help others? Any time they do help others, it can feel exhausting to them. They find no joy in it. It’s a big burden. Serving, volunteering, thinking of others first feels like they are climbing Mt. Everest.
An ungrateful person is threatened by talented people, popular people, or richer people. They can’t be content with and enjoy who they are. They can become jealous. They don’t like it when people around them get the pay raise, get a new house, improve themselves in any way. They feel miserable and to them, they want others to be miserable.
An ungrateful person measures success in terms of other’s failures. They can feel a sense of satisfaction when others fail. Keeping others down makes them feel, in a twisted way, like they are doing okay. They are like crabs in a bucket. Do you know about crabs in a bucket? If you place crabs in a bucket, you never need a lid because any crab trying to escape will be pulled back in by all the other crabs.
Please hear me, being negative and ungrateful and doing nothing to become grateful, does serious damage. It’s a spiritual battle. So how do we find gratitude? That’s what I want to talk about today. I need to start with something that might surprise you. You can’t find gratitude because gratitude isn’t something you find. It’s not like a treasure. You don’t hunt for it, search for it, find it and then enjoy it. There is no secret to finding gratitude. Gratitude is different. It’s not something you find outside of yourself. Gratitude comes from deep inside yourself. When you are content with who you are, you become grateful. How do we know this is true?
Jesus told us. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. MSG Matthew 5:5
Gratitude isn’t something you find, it’s who you are. If you are content, you are grateful. Today I want to talk about this spiritual battle we face. How do we break the cycle of being negative and ungrateful to become filled with gratitude?
The first thing you need in your life to be grateful is to understand and believe, I am utterly incapable of living the glorious life God wants from me.
We’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us. MSG Romans 3:23
Have you figured this out yet? In every attempt we make to be who we want to be, what happens? We fail. In every attempt we make to find satisfaction, happiness or gratitude, what happens? We fail. And over years, we compile a long and sorry record of failure. We can’t be who we want to be, and we can’t find long term, sustainable satisfaction, happiness or gratitude.
You think, “I want to be more disciplined.” You fail. “I want to be that guy or girl.” You fail. “I want to, fill in the blank with anything you want, and then I will be grateful.” You fail. What is happening? We are failing at all our attempts to be better. In all our failed attempts to be a better person, we simply cannot do it, and we know it, and we and feel bad about it. We are left with a mess inside ourselves. Unsatisfied. Unhappy. Ungrateful. We are caught searching for the things to make us happy.
I want to keep reading in Romans.
3:23 Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us. 24 God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
12:3 …it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. MSG Romans 3:23-24, 12:3
The first thing you need in your life to be grateful is to understand and believe, I am utterly incapable of living the glorious life God wants from me. It’s not up to me to create. It’s not something I do. It’s always 100% what God brings into my life. The only accurate way to see yourself is by what God brings into your life.
When you live like this, you can finally be content. You can finally be grateful. Imagine how much pressure is off of you when you finally understand and believe that. That’s like having a thousand-pound weight just fall off of you. That is spiritual transformation.
The second thing you need in your life to be grateful is to enjoy the ordinary. I didn’t say be boring, I said, enjoy the ordinary. Enjoy the moment you are in. If you are at home, stop trying to be a work. If you are at your kids baseball game, stop wishing you were home. If you are young and living in an apartment, enjoy the apartment. If you are in a beater car and can’t afford a new one yet, enjoy your beater car.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. MSG Romans 12:1
We live in a culture that tells you, you can never be happy or content by yourself. You are too ordinary. God is not enough. You need something extra. You need excitement. Entertainment. Something new. Success. Fame. Your kids need to start on their sports team. Your holiday has to be perfect. You need a vacation. You need a new home. You need something, anything but just don’t be you, that isn’t enough. The world leaves us always searching for more but never satisfied. If we are always searching, we can never be content. If we are always searching, we can never enjoy the moment we are in.
19 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; 20 trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; 21 the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. MSG Galatians 5:19-21
Did you see that? Frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness. All-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants. Small-minded and lopsided pursuits. Uncontrollable additions. All of this is from believing, God is not enough, I need something extra. Here is why this is so dangerous. It makes you believe something from this world can replace what only God can give you. Don’t fall for what our world is telling you. You don’t need something more to be content.
This is a spiritual battle. God is enough. What did Satan tell Eve? God’s holding out on you; you need something more. Don’t take a bite out of that apple. Enjoy the ordinary.
The third thing we need to be gracious is to understand our appetites. That means our desire for things like success, food, relationships, sex, having fun, validation or justice and the list could go on.
God created appetites and placed them inside us. Imagine your life with no appetites. It would be so boring. God planted appetites in you to enjoy life. They aren’t bad; they are good.
Your appetites will never satisfy you. You will always want more. This week, you will eat a turkey, walk away from the table and say, “I can’t possibly eat any more.” You will be back in the kitchen in a couple of hours. Why? Your appetites will never satisfy you.
Sin takes your God given good appetites and twists them against us. We know that your appetites have turned into sin when you want what you want so bad, you are okay going against what God said. That’s when our cravings begin to control us. We don’t control them. And how we manage our appetites will determine how we will live spiritually.
18 There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. 19 But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. 20 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! MSG Philippians 3:18-20
Did you see that? They make their bellies their gods. All they can think of is their appetite. That’s when our appetites ruin us. That’s when, ‘what I want’ or ‘easy street’ is more important than ‘following Christ’. If our appetites have the power to lead us away from God, how we manage our God given appetites will determine how we live spiritually.
If you find yourself being ungrateful or negative, it’s okay to do something about it. I think we see that it can be our normal default setting in our lives. We need to understand this is a spiritual battle and it can create serious damage. We need to do something about it. To break its power over us we need do a couple of things.
First, understand and believe, you are completely incapable to be who God wants you to be. Enjoy what God brings you. Surrender your life to God and enjoy His grace. Please, based on Romans, just relax and enjoy God.
Secondly, enjoy the ordinary. You don’t need anything extra to be content. This is so dangerous because nothing from this world can replace what only God can give you. If you believe that God isn’t enough, you will spend your years chasing happiness and never finding it.
Understand your appetites. They are from God and they are good. But, if you aren’t careful, they can control you and pull you away from what God has for you.
If you find that you are negative and ungrateful, I would tell you, it’s a spiritual battle. And, God has given you all authority to do something about it.
Here is what I want you to do all this week and month. In all areas of your life, be grateful. Don’t allow anything negative to come out of your mouth about your spouse, point out everything they do right. When you show up to church or work, be positive. And this week, never be negative, critical or gossipy. Start everyday out with prayer and knowing that you are 100% dependent on God bringing you His goodness.
And as this slowly pains you, because it will, you will know, ‘I am moving from being negative to grateful.’