November 24, 2015 • Life for Leaders
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.”
Psalm 111:4 (NIV)
I might say that I struggle with expressing gratitude to God. Yet, in truth, my problem isn’t a lack of gratitude so much as a failure to think about God’s gifts to me. When I actually take time to consider God’s grace in my life, when I actually remember the ways he has saved, healed, and transformed me, then gratitude flows quite easily. For me the formula is simple: Time + Remembering = Gratitude.
If I’m going to have adequate time for thanking God, I need to put it on my calendar. During the week in which Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, this means intentionally setting aside at least one hour for prayer of gratitude. No requests. No confessions of sin. For one hour, just saying thanks, lots of thanks for lots of things. Usually, I do this on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving because the holiday is often quite full for me. My tradition is to get to a place of quiet and solitude where I can spend at least ninety minutes in prayer, with the middle sixty devoted to gratitude.
Once I am able to pause, take a deep breath, and begin my time of giving thanks, I ask the Lord to guide me. At the top of my list are many obvious gifts: my family, my work, my home, my church, my health, my friends, and, of course, my relationship with God through Christ. Over the years, I have found that if I set aside adequate time for gratitude, and if I am quiet enough to let the Lord whisper in my heart, I will often remember things for which I have never either felt grateful or expressed gratitude to God before. I’m always amazed by the way God helps me to remember his good gifts, even and especially the ones I have previously taken for granted.
Psalm 111:4 celebrates the fact that the Lord “has caused his wonders to be remembered.” (You may have noticed that we are using the NIV translation today. It is a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew, which begins, “he makes memory to his wonders.”) How does God cause his wonders to be remembered? Partly, this happens when we quiet our hearts and open them to his Spirit. Sometimes remembrance bubbles up as if out of nowhere. Smells have a particular power to evoke memory. Often, our remembrance of God’s grace is ignited in corporate worship, as someone gives a word of witness or as a hymn expands our consciousness. Scripture reminds us time and again of God’s wonderful works in history as well as in our own lives.
In this season of thanksgiving, may I encourage you to set aside time for remembrance. If you can’t devote a whole hour, at least allow yourself fifteen minutes of quiet reflection and gratitude. Allow the Lord to bring to mind his manifold gifts to you. True thanksgiving will follow.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What helps you to remember God’s gifts in your life and work?
Will you be able to set aside intentional time for thanksgiving today or tomorrow? Or perhaps Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day?
O Lord, how good you are to me! Not only do you pour out blessings in my life and work, but also you help me to remember them. Thank you for the nudging of your Spirit so that I might be filled with gratitude.
Indeed, Lord, I invite you once again to remind me of your goodness. Help me to remember things I have forgotten. Help me to see my life from a fresh perspective, so that I might be thankful in new ways.
Most of all, help me to remember anew the gift of salvation through Christ. Amen.
An earlier version of this devotion appeared at The High Calling. It is used with permission under a Creative Commons license.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.