Throughout this devotional series, we have looked at the power of gratitude toward God to activate change, stability, endurance, and strength in our lives. Gratitude operates as a transformational agent. Imagine a glass full of water and bleach. We stir it and stir, but no matter how much activity we apply to the mixture, nothing changes it. Now, deposit merely a drop or two of any dye color into that same mixture. Suddenly, the whole appearance and chemical makeup transforms.
Similarly, gratitude acts as a transforming agent in our lives. For many of us, this experience includes transitioning from work and activity to greater focus and perspective. A posture of gratitude is less about the busyness of our lives and more about the perspective of our hearts.
I have always loved that when Jesus declared the beginning of His mission in Luke 4:16-21, He proclaimed this passage from Isaiah 61 as His mission statement.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)
Christ did not come merely to save us but to transform our lives. Salvation would have been enough, but God had much bigger plans! The restoration of gratitude in our lives is critical to securing that transformation.
Gratitude initiates its transformational power by swallowing up our sorrows and mourning. When we stand before God in a posture of gratitude, we exchange our past regrets, wounds, and fears for His sovereign purpose and glory. We rest in the certainty of God’s faithfulness and love even when we sometimes do not understand it. That is the posture of gratitude.
When the Israelites returned from their captivity in Babylon with Ezra, they began to rebuild the temple. On the day that the temple’s foundations were rebuilt, many of the younger people who did not know the glory of the old temple began to praise and thank God. But amid that posture of gratitude and praise, there was also the sound of mourning. The older generation remembered the temple that had previously stood there, and their cry rose up in regret for what the people had endured.
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. Ezra 3:10-12 (NIV)
But the final verse that describes this scene is the most profound!
No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
Ezra 3:13 (NIV)
Gratitude and thanksgiving swallowed up the sounds of regret and mourning. It changed the frequency and transformed the people as they reclaimed their rightful place before God.
We can change the sound and makeup of our lives when we implement the life-altering agent of gratitude!