“Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.” Acts 16:25-26 Message
When I read stories like Paul and Silas I feel like all my excuses for not being grateful are exposed for what they really are. If I have a bad day I am often so quick to grumble and complain. If things don’t go my way, or as fast as I want, the raw nature of the person I do not want to be comes rising to the surface. Long lines up bug me, slow drivers disturb me, high maintenance believers exhaust me and all of these things expose how shallow or how deep gratitude runs in me. Sometimes I am disappointed to admit, it is pretty shallow and often movable.
Then I look at Paul and Silas, not to judge or be hard on myself but to remind my heart that there is a better way. One that leads to life. One that sees God in every circumstance, and not absent in the moments of trouble. You see, if I can’t shout to God’s reality when the guy ahead of me is moving slow, then how will I ever shout to God’s glory when I am bound, beaten, and living an injustice in my life? If I can’t be grateful when things don’t go my way, how will I respond when real pain and suffering is given to me? I will be off in a corner licking my wounds and telling God and the world how unfair life has treated me. Somehow, I must truly understand this journey of gratitude and how it will affect every area of my life.
True gratitude will give you the ability to sit in a season of misunderstanding, injustice, and personal pain and give you the ability to rejoice in your God. I am not implying that Paul and Silas were happy to be in that place, but they understood something, if they belonged to God, and they were there, God must be up to something. So, why not rejoice? Why not sing? Why not celebrate?
Their focus on God and their song in the night caused heaven to move on their behalf, but also brought an entire family into the kingdom of God. (V.31)
When I consider this, I realize how selfish I really am at times. So much of the stuff in life I don’t like, I want to get out of because I am uncomfortable. Yet, what if there is a family God has hiding that will come to the kingdom because of my praise, because of my gratitude?
The enemy wants us to believe that being grateful is no big deal, after all everyone has bad days, right? Well, even if that is true, it is never an excuse for not finding God and offering Him our gratitude whether in a frustrating line up, or in the dark dungeon of injustice. Every moment is the right time to offer praise and thanksgiving to a God who sees and knows what we can’t.
Maybe right now expressing that gratitude would be a good place to start.
Today I am grateful for His constant reminders to rise higher. I am thankful that He challenges my excuses and reveals them for what they are. I am blessed because men and women have gone before me and left me a legacy to follow, revealing that when Jesus is kept in focus, I can express gratitude in the most unlikely moments. Thank you Jesus for those even today in this generation who are enduring chains and remaining faithful to your name. Thank you for the reminder that this is not about me, but about you and the Honour of your Name.