When Joshua Kaufman survived Hitler’s brutal concentration camp in Dachau, he had only one wish: he wanted to thank one of the United States soldiers who had liberated him. Joshua waited seventy years for that moment…
Eighty-nine-year-old Daniel Gillespie was making his way across the street. The soldier who had entered Dachau as a strong, young man to set Joshua free now moved slowly, carefully navigating his walker over the pavement. When the two men drew close, Joshua saluted Daniel, took his hand and kissed it, and then kissed him on the cheek.
Joshua’s voice was choked with emotion as he addressed the man who had freed him so long ago. “Then I didn’t have the strength to kiss your feet,” he said to Daniel. “I was too weak. I will do it now.” Joshua carefully moved Daniel’s walker to the side so that he could drop to his knees and kiss the tops of Daniel’s shoes.1
Gratitude is a tremendous force. In fact, our gratitude to God invites Him into our lives to frame even our deepest wounds in the grace of Christ.
Yet gratitude doesn’t come naturally, especially during difficult times. Grumbling, complaining, and focusing on all that’s wrong is far easier than choosing to focus on the good in our lives and to be thankful. That’s why we need to approach gratitude as a discipline: we choose gratitude because God tells us to.
Over and over in the Psalms, David encouraged himself to praise God no matter how hard life was. He did this because even when life was difficult and painful, God was good.
Approaching God with gratitude — recalling His generous kindnesses to us, past and present — helps us remember that truth. Giving Him thanks opens our hearts to His love and His voice and leads us to rest in His presence. It’s a wonderful way to begin our quiet time with God.
So let’s practice gratitude right now. We can start with everyday items — the food we eat, the clothes we wear, even the ability to take another breath — and go from there. As we count our blessings, we will find that the good in our lives shines brighter than ever before and that our hearts begin to open more widely to receive all that God longs to speak into us.
The Enemy of our souls would keep us in a concentration camp of bitterness about what we do not have, but the cross of Christ proclaims that He has won the victory and that we are free to
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. — Psalm 100:4
Gratitude opens doors that lead us out of bitterness and into joy.
Five Minutes in the Word
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. — 1 Timothy 6:6-8
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:11-13 ESV
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation. — Psalm 100 NLT
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. — Colossians 3:16
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. — Psalm 69:30
1.Die Befreier, “The Liberators: Why We Fought,” History (Germany), YouTube, April 29, 2015, https://youtube.com/watch?v=XwuQt0OyvO0.
Excerpted with permission from 5 Minutes with Jesus: Quiet Time for Your Soul by Sheila Walsh, copyright Sheila Walsh.
* * *
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! We pray that you are filled with gratitude today for everything from the biggest gift of our lives — salvation — to the small beauties of every day. We are thankful for you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full