UNEARTHLY THING◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
by Angela Dolbear
Lately, the hit song “Gratitude,” from the 80’s band Oingo Boingo, is on repeat in my mind. As a worship leader, one might think the songs playing in my head would consist of all sanctified tunes, songs of praise and worship (which actually happens a lot), but I was teenager in the 80’s, so that music is ingrained in me. I live in the world, though I am not of it (ponder John 17:14-16). I asked God to help me never to forget what life was like before Jesus lived in my heart. Mind and soul. But that is a topic for another day. I digress…back to gratitude!
Today, I am writing about gratitude, hence the song.
November brings one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Pumpkin everything (I am not complaining, but partaking! Yum!) everywhere, along with big dinners and big shopping, and oh, uh, big football, so I’ve heard. And it’s a time to give thanks. Hopefully, big thanks to God.
Gratitude in action
I live with almost constant anxiety, which seems to gain strength as it feeds on the Covid pandemic and the political unrest. Anxiety is a strange and unwelcomed sensational that is new to me, since it is a side effect from the stroke I had in March 2018. Depression has also come to live in my brain, since then. Before fireworks exploded in my brain, I never experienced either of these mental conditions. But now I do. I recognize them when they come around, like a hoard of angry villagers brandishing torches of fire that I can’t escape from their encroaching pursuit of my emotional equilibrium. I was asking God to heal me on a day that was particularly dark and suffocating. He told me to be thankful.
Sounds odd, I know. But I knew what He meant.
God taught me to demolish the strongholds of anxiety and depression by specifically naming things for which I am grateful.
Even the smallest things: the nice desk chair I am sitting on, the beautiful home I live in, in Nashville, my sweet black cat Maddy, who always knows when my anxiety levels are high, for my awesome husband and best friend Tim (I could name specific items of gratitude for hours about him), and for the hot coffee in the cute atomic print mug, which I am currently drinking while I write.
After naming as few as five items of gratitude, the fog began to lift. The dark weight of depression began to diminish.
I will keep naming people, places and things of which I am thankful, until gratitude has become my attitude. And I am free. And so loved by God. Which I am eternally grateful for. “When you intentionally think about things that are godly, there’s no room for the enemy’s lies
to get into your mind,” Joyce Meyer wrote in her daily devotional, from September 18, 2020. “Concentrating on trying to not think wrong thoughts can actually increase them, but focusing on what’s pure, true and life-giving—filling your mind with good things—will shift the whole direction of your life to line up with God’s Word. This was a life-changing revelation for me. I realized I couldn’t wait for something good to just fall into my mind; I had to choose my thoughts on purpose.”
Yes! I choose to think on gratitude.
Here are just a few of the many, many verses on gratitude from God’s word, to give us something good to think on (all quoted form the Amplified translation of the Bible):
“Remember [with gratitude] His marvelous deeds which He has done, His miracles and the judgments from His mouth” -- 1 Chronicles 16:12
“Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. -- Psalm 100:3
“People will speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And [with gratitude and submissive wonder] I will tell of Your greatness.” -- Psalm 145:6
“But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].” -- 1 Corinthians 8:3
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, and offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship with reverence and awe” -- Hebrews 12:28
Application: Instead of focusing on my extreme need or suffering, and praying with a sense of fear and a sliver of blame on God, as I am prone to do when I have been run-over by anxiety and/or depression, I need to ask Him with trust, faith and patience, to fill me with gratitude. And I need to replace my anxious thoughts with deep gratitude for everything I touch, everything surrounding me. Even the comfy office chair I am sitting on.
Application Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me the ability to think healthy thoughts. Please replace lies, deceptions and destructive thoughts with the truth of Your Word, and real life examples of gratitude. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Great heaps of blessings to you, and thank you for reading my ramblings!
Picture note: This is Sparky, the sweet squirrel my husband and I raised from an infant. I am so very grateful for that experience, and all the lessons we learned along that journey. Tune in next month for that story. God is good!
ANGELA DOLBEAR is the author of four novels, and several short stories.
She also writes and records original music with her husband, Tim Dolbear.
Please visit her author page on Amazon for more information.