Resisting Gratitude

Thanksgiving and I don’t always get along. I struggle at times seeing certain circumstances as something to be thankful for.  Like illnesses, heart surgery, financial problems, stolen credit cards, work hassles, relational conflicts, being falsely accused by other Christians. Am I the victim here? I didn’t ask for this! My thankfulness-meter is calibrated toward good things.  You know, a bonus at work, a great conversation with a friend, awesome sex with my wife, a good report from the doctor. I can be thankful then! Who wouldn’t? 

So where is my disconnect with gratitude coming from? Is God not interested in my success? Has He left me here to fend for myself?  

 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21 ESV

Reading that verse backward, you see that foolish hearts are darkened, They lead to futile thinking, which leads to a lack of giving thanks or honoring God. I can be stingy with my gratitude because deep in my heart I resist the light of the Gospel of Jesus.  In Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside of me. He dwells there in my soul. At issue is my willingness to let Him have all of me. 

The question is NOT, Do I have all of the Holy Spirit?  

The question is, Does the Holy Spirit have all of me?

Where those pockets of my soul resist the filling of the Holy Spirit, I get grumpy and lack thankfulness. Entitlement fills my heart where full surrender should. My thinking goes dark and futile. I lose perspective and fall for the lie that good vs bad circumstances is a litmus test for God’s love for me. 

This is a spiritual battle we each face. I’m not here to tell you to trust in Jesus and all will be a bed of roses. Whoever tells you that is lying to you. I am here to say trust in Jesus and He will use ALL things for good in your life. In fact, His will for you is to be thankful in ALL circumstances.  

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Part of walking with God is to see His hand in the midst of all circumstances. He promises to never leave or forsake you. I like what David writes in Psalm 139: 5-6 ESV

you hem me in, behind and before,

    and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

    it is high; I cannot attain it.

God goes before us. He is paving the way, even through difficult times. He goes behind us, having our back. And, he lays His hand on us. “I’m with you through it all.”

There are things that have happened to me, had I had the pen and could write the script of my life, that would not be in it.  But it is. The biggest being my heart surgery. The week before my surgery was the most excruciating of my life. I had no idea at the time if that was my last week to live. “God, where are you?” Answer: Right there with me. Through the people who surrounded me with love and prayers. Through the sense of His presence when my ache hurt to the extreme. Through the skillful hands of the surgeon and medical team. Through the six weeks of recovery. Through every moment of my life since. 

The scar on my chest has faded some, but it’s still there. A reminder that in all things, God is working for my good. We over-use Romans 8:28 that says God works all things for good to those who love him. We think it’s a magic formula. It is not! It is a promise that nothing will ever outwit God. 

I made a list of things to be thankful for. It’s nowhere near inclusive, but it shifts my heart to where it needs to be. 


Salvation in Christ







The Word

Heart Surgery

My hammock

Your list?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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