I recently started spending a few minutes every morning writing down a couple things I’m grateful for in my life. These things consist of anything including people in my life, freedom from certain situations, material possessions, answered prayers, etc. This simple habit has helped keep my perspective in the right place. I’ve actually heard this ritual has brought great success to people overcoming depression. There’s something about writing the thoughts in our heads and forcing ourselves to remember the good in our lives that helps change any negative emotions.
On this one particular day, I thought I’d write an entire page of thankfulness. I grabbed my pen and quickly started scribbling the thoughts in my head. I had so much to write that I didn’t waste time trying to keep it neat and orderly. After finishing, I re-read what I wrote. To my dismay, my entire page of “thankfulness” was actually an entire page of “ungratefulness”.
Instead of writing about how grateful I was for my son, I complained about his attitude. Instead of writing about being thankful for another day to live, I wrote that I wanted the day to be over. What the heck happened?
I went from waking up wanting to write an entire page (if not more!) about the many things I was so grateful for, but somewhere along the way, my lines got crossed and thankfulness turned into ungratefulness. Some might say it turned from thankfulness to greediness.
So where did the lines get crossed?
To understand the shift, let me give you a brief background of what was taking place in my life: I was praying for big, faith-altering situations in my life. I really started sensing the Lord was about to breakthrough. The night before writing my list of ungrateful frustrations, I read about how thankfulness is often times the key many Christians lack when it comes to worshipping God. We often times ask for something in our prayers without acknowledging what He did and does for us. Of course, after reading this, I thanked God again for multiple people and situations in my life. I wanted to give Him the utmost praise by letting Him know (and reminding myself) that I was grateful.
The enemy knows what God loves to hear and see in us. Because he doesn’t want us to thrive in our relationship with God, he tries to confuse the lines so we don’t thank God, even when we want to. How rude!
Let’s get back to the day of the letter — the piece of information I didn’t share with you is when I wrote my frustration page.
That morning I had already eaten breakfast and brought my son to school and started dealing with life before acknowledging my thankfulness… before ever acknowledging God in my life. Listing what we’re thankful for to God isn’t this mindset that we’re required to rattle off a list of “good things” in our lives. Confessing what we’re thankful for to the Lord strengthens your relationship with God as well as strengthens you as an individual. It reminds you of the good in your life, despite the chaos that may be swirling around you. Proclaiming the good in your life reminds you of who you are and reminds the enemy of whose you are. When we wake up and don’t immediately place our hearts and minds in the right place of thankfulness and humility, we give the enemy room to come in and cause frustration in our minds.
For me, he caused greed.
I suddenly longed for material possessions others had. I suddenly wanted certain friends I thought I didn’t have. I wanted a relationship. I wanted a better behaved child. I wanted money. I wanted a different job. I wanted a different life.
That mood stayed with me for almost the entire day. That nasty, greedy, ungrateful, ugly mood. I finally had enough of my pity party. I decided to proclaim to the Lord what I had been grateful for. I walked out of the house and decided that even if my attitude wouldn’t change, I’d at least change my perspective. I wasn’t going to allow the enemy to play with my head anymore.
Then I saw a visual of a homeless person looking for food. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream and yell and chop Satan’s head off. How could I be so ungrateful when there are so many people in this world that have much, much less than me? There are people who struggle to get food on the table. There are people who can’t afford to purchase new clothing or nice cars or whatever other material possessions we find ourselves longing. Who am I to complain and grow greedy when I have the most valuable gift in the world? My relationship with God is what makes me rich. That relationship is what makes life worth living. That relationship is what brings me joy and peace and satisfaction every day.
Isn’t it interesting that on my day of wanting to unload an entire heart of gratitude, the enemy attacked my relationship with God by casting doubt and causing greed? He attacked the one thing – my relationship with God – that I’m most grateful for. He also attacked my faith-altering prayer, causing me to doubt that God would answer — ultimately causing doubt in my head about God.
As you enter into the holidays with the season of thankfulness upon us, remember the enemy is on the prowl. He wants to cause division by reminding you of what you don’t have. In those moments, remind him of what you do have — the power of the Holy Spirit — and curse him back to hell.
In Colossians 4, Paul reminds us to continue praying and remain thankful in prayer —
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” – Colossians 4:2 Instead of this being a scripture we just skim over, let’s create a habit of thanksgiving as we pray.
Continue praying, believing, and thanking God.