We are fast approaching the American holiday that will launch thousands of tweets, posts, and photos with largely the same theme:  a crowded table of people and food and some sentiment on how the person posting is “feeling grateful.”

Culturally, that may work.  Biblically, it completely misses the point.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 portrays the relationship between faith and gratitude:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The word “yet” in the next to last line may be one of the most faithful words in scripture.

The crops have failed, the fields did not produce a crop, the storage bins are empty…and YET we will rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God our Savior.  Exactly.

Gratitude does not depend on a full table, a crowded table, or the right people around the table.  It does not wait for things to be “full” before gratitude is felt.  Gratitude does not depend on feeling at all.

Gratitude is a choice.  It is nurtured by faith in a God who is our abundance, who is our presence, who is our fulfillment.  If we attempt to approach gratitude on any lesser foundation than that, we will oscillate wildly like a roller coaster ride – up one day, down the next – depending on a host of external pressures.

Gratitude as a choice – one supported and led by God’s Spirit – leads to another truth.  Choosing to begin each day in gratitude changes things. It changes encounters and relationships, and most important, it changes you and me.

Seth Godin is helpful here:

It doesn’t matter what country, what culture or what background you come from…

Gratitude works.

Gratitude scales.

Gratitude creates a positive cycle of more gratitude.

When in doubt, default to gratitude.

Today, try saying this out loud at least once: “When in doubt, default to gratitude.”

And, you might add: “YET I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

1 Comment
  • Michael Poulos
    Posted at 22:17h, 15 November Reply

    Thanks Mark, this is really helpful and will shape some of what I will preach on Sunday for a thanksgiving/stewardship theme.

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