Scripture calls us to live as spiritual beings, not mere fleshly men and women ruled by our carnal environment. We can incorporate many disciplines into our lives to encourage and strengthen this posture to set our minds on things above rather than the things of this world, and they are all to our benefit.
Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
Colossians 3:2 (NLT)
I contend, however, that among the fastest acting spiritual disciplines that shift our minds and focus from the things of this world to the things of heaven is the discipline of gratitude. An authentic posture of gratitude before God establishes a doorway or a portal for our mind to transition its focus from the things of this world to the things of heaven.
I am not referring to a religious mantra of gratitude or even simply expressing a general thankfulness in our attitude toward life. The portal of gratitude is opened when we set our minds upon the goodness of God, no matter the contrary evidence and persuasions from the world around us. When that portal opens, our perception of situations we confront changes quickly.
Jesus and Lazarus
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”
John 11:40-42 (NLT)
In the story of Jesus and His friend Lazarus, we know that everything in the surrounding circumstances suggested an occasion for mourning and sadness. A few verses before this passage, we even read that Jesus wept. The faith of Lazarus’s sister was breached in that she knew Jesus could have done something if He arrived earlier, but now it was too late. Even the crowd and onlookers that surrounded the situation suggested a missed opportunity. “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
Jesus had other plans, though. He recognized the situation was the setting for one of His greatest miracles. The people’s eyes were about to be opened to new possibilities before God. In the next moment, He would demonstrate the power of God’s will over life and death. Before He did that, however, He thanked God. And why did He thank God? He tells us in this passage from the book of John.
Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.
He wanted the people to hear Him thank God. Gratitude before God adjusts our environment enabling us to believe and see Him. Jesus deliberately thanked God out loud, in front of the people, because He knew it would increase their faith and understanding. Gratitude opens a doorway, a portal, for spiritual sight and understanding.
No matter what crisis or anxiety we may face, God is bigger. His will is stronger. His desire is that, as spiritual beings, we see beyond the chaos and into His will and purposes. Because we are spiritual beings, we must confront the chaos of our lives as spiritual beings. Set our minds on things above, not on things of this earth. Gratitude is one of our fastest-acting tools for navigating this posture. When we lift our eyes above the crisis and toward the goodness of God with a heart of sincere gratitude, faith, understanding, and insight begin to flow.
The principle of gratitude as a portal to the upper realm where we can step into postures of strength and faith is among the most potent keys recognized in this series on gratitude.