Lesson Learned #4: Gratitude
We had a hard freeze this past week. Everything that was green and flourishing is now brown and dead. Winter has arrived, and it is hard to visualize the vibrancy once present during the spring and summer. I love nature and always feel a bit down when the dormant season arrives. Our lives can be a bit like the seasons, and as educators our “seasons” often revolve around the school year.
We begin each year with great anticipation and excitement, but pretty soon the season changes, and “winter” often sets in. I have learned that a heart of gratitude is one of the best ways to remain joyful and honor God through the seasons.
This past month I had the pleasure of working in several school buildings. In two of them the plaque below was on the wall in the office area.
Plaques like these are quite common. Having a grateful heart is embraced by most people, Christians and non-Christians alike. Who can argue with being grateful? However, for a Christian, a grateful heart takes on a far different meaning. A Christian’s gratitude, first and foremost, comes from a changed heart—a heart transformed by the everlasting love of the Almighty God.
The Lord your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will
love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live! Deuteronomy 30:6
When times get tough or life is simply too busy, it is so easy to forget this truth. No matter the circumstance, we can and must always thank God for His love for us. He has given us a new heart, a heart to love Him and love others. Nothing can take that away from us. Paul reminds us to be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
There is a big difference between being grateful and having a heart of gratitude. I can be grateful for my family or grateful for my job, but a heart of gratitude is really an overflow of God’s work in our lives. I love this verse in Psalms.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled
with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7
A grateful heart can’t be contained. It doesn’t come from my surroundings, accomplishments, or circumstances. A grateful heart comes from God alone. All the good in our lives is a direct result of His grace.
While plaques on our walls can be good reminders, how we live our lives carries considerably more weight. It is so easy to get bogged down with just navigating life. As educators, days can become filled with juggling numerous responsibilities, managing fluctuating personalities, and handling unexpected events. Sometimes it’s hard to catch your breath.
For me, if I’m not careful, I can lose sight of all I have to be thankful for. God wants to continue to change my heart. I have learned that I must be more purposeful when it comes to nurturing my grateful heart. I never want to take God’s goodness for granted.
Here are some things we can do daily to develop a heart of gratitude.
· We are loved. Romans 8:37-39
· We are chosen. I Peter 2:9
· God is faithful. I Corinthians 1:9
· God is good. Psalm 145:8-9
· God’s plan is perfect. Jeremiah 29:11
Read and meditate on God’s Word. The more we learn about God and who He is, the more our hearts will overflow with gratefulness. His Word is true.
Talk to God. He loves you. He will speak to you, and your heart will be full.
Take time each day to write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. While many do this in the evening, I often find starting my day with a grateful heart puts a spring in my step and helps me to start with a positive perspective. His mercies are new every morning!
One Final Thought
As we approach this week of Thanksgiving, I want every educator to know that I am so thankful for you. Every day you pour into the lives of children. These children need you. They need love, acceptance, encouragement, teaching, and discipline. Being an educator is not just a job for a Christian. It is a calling. You are on mission. God has placed you where you are for reason. Thank you for letting your heart of gratitude impact those around you.
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.
4 Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever.