Have you ever made a list, either mentally or on paper, of all the heart changes the Holy Spirit's completed in you? Isn't it amazing how He transforms us? His work is so beautiful, like the most exquisite artwork imaginable.
When we talk about making gratitude lists, we mustn't forget to acknowledge His work in us. Our acknowledgement, which leads to gratitude, helps us maintain an attitude of humility, because it's an everyday reminder of our dependence on God for anything good that comes from us.
Often hardships are part of the overall heart change the Holy Spirit works in us. So for those, too, we must give thanks. Ann calls these hard hallelujahs. I explained this term to eight-year-old Paul the other day and he responded, "Oh, I didn't know we were supposed to be thankful for hard things." (Just an aside here: Discipling children is a full-time job. To look at it any other way is to discount its importance.)
Today, my gratitude list includes heart changes and the hard hallelujahs that birthed them. I won't get to all of them in a day, but this is a start.
~ We are more thankful than we were three years ago. Hard hallelujah = being low income and knowing that our daily bread truly does come from God alone.
~ With each passing year, Christmas is less work, less stress, and more a reminder of what we need to be doing all year long as Christians: thanking, worshiping, and giving of our hearts, time, and pocketbook, in Jesus' name. The food is good too, of course, and the time off to be fully together. But presents? That's fading in our minds and in our children's minds. This year, they hope for one present under the tree. With God's help, we're going to manage that. Their hoping for only one? That is a miracle and a blessing, brought about by the same hard hallelujah = being low income and knowing that joy doesn't come from things. Too many things = ungratefulness and wasted time managing those things.
~ We are more humble. Hard hallelujahs = shame about financial failures, having to accept help from family and friends and looking more shabby than most people we run into. (old cars, worn clothes, etc.) When you are shabby (I don't mean unclean here) your ego can't puff up as much. Notice I qualified this with "as much". Human egos will always find some reason to puff up. Humility is a daily process of acknowledging our dependence on God. Prayer, worship, and Bible reading help us remember our position before God. When we spend that time the Holy Spirit speaks truth into us about ourselves, and about our loving, merciful God.
~ We are more prayerful. Hard hallelujahs = financial hardship and loneliness/isolation. The more we need God and go to Him, the more we want fellowship (prayer) with Him. It makes sense that time spent on our relationship with Him brings not only greater peace, but greater desire for Him.
~ We are more compassionate. Hard hallelujahs = miscarriages, disorders, chronic health issues, disease, financial hardship
~ We have more perspective. Hard hallelujahs = learning about abject poverty and social injustice and the devastating, debilitating diseases others suffer. All of these lessons are painful, but a necessary process for every Christian.
~ We know why we were saved. Hard hallelujah = learning about abject poverty and knowing that we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This is how He can allow abject poverty: Because we, Christians, are the answer to it. It is up to us to redistribute our abundance, out of a thankful heart. (Of course, we are also saved to fellowship with God.)
~ We are more selfless. Hard hallelujahs = children with special needs taking up our "personal" time
I have to be disciplined and stop here today.
How about your list? What works of grace are on there?