November 15, 2023

Fully Grateful

Written by Boyd Bailey

As your gratitude sparks curiosity for Christ, be ready to boldly share your love for Christ.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 15, 2023

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

I have known Stan, Amy, and their son Stanley for at least 20 years. A family that is full of grace, love, and joy. Yet, if you knew their circumstance, you would ask…why? You see, their son Stanley has been extremely dependent on his family for 35 years. Having cerebral palsy, his brain was damaged at childbirth from lack of oxygen. CP can take on various forms, but in Stanley’s life, his muscles don’t function properly, and his vision is very limited. Yet, even though he is wheelchair-bound and barely able to communicate, Stanley and his family are full of gratitude and joy. Grateful to be alive, to be loved, and to love. Their pain has not defined them, but it has drawn them closer to Christ and to each other. They are learning to be fully grateful even though their life is not “normal;” their life is abundant and free in Jesus Christ!

Gratitude in good times is mostly easy; I say mostly because sometimes I think I may need more good things to be truly grateful. Which, of course, is not the truth. Even more challenging is to remain grateful in what seems in the moment very hard times. Gratitude when experiencing difficulty and gratitude for difficulty is counterintuitive, to say the least. Yet, it’s in these moments when I groan to God that I have the opportunity to draw closer to God. He knows me, and He knows what I need before I know what I need. So, a health issue may have a back door blessing of causing me to embrace better health habits, what I eat and drink, and how I exercise. And, in the long run, I may be even healthier than before I encountered elevated physical issues. Or, a hard season of relational strain and pain may have been the Lord’s way to humble my heart, grow my empathy and forgiveness, and deepen my prayer life. And over time, maybe the person I have been sideways with actually becomes even closer than before we hurt the other.

Past pain does not define us, yet it is part of our story that makes us a person who has the fingerprints of God’s grace, faithfulness, and forgiveness in our lives. Henri Nouwen speaks to what it looks like to live a truly grateful life, even after walking through good and bad experiences:

How can we live a truly grateful life? When we look back at all that has happened to us, we easily divide our lives into good things to be grateful for and bad things to forget. But with a past thus divided, we cannot move freely into the future. With many things to forget, we can only limp toward the future. True spiritual gratitude embraces all of our past, the good as well as the bad events, the joyful as well as the sorrowful moments. From the place where we stand, everything that took place brought us to this place, and we want to remember all of it as part of God’s guidance. That does not mean that all that happened in the past was good, but it does mean that even the bad didn’t happen outside the loving presence of God…Once all of our past is remembered in gratitude, we are free to be sent into the world to proclaim good news to others.

The apostle Paul, who admonishes believers in Jesus to be grateful in all circumstances, could have justified complaining and blaming because of his own struggles with health issues, physical torment from antagonists, fear from life-threatening travels, and political and religious persecution. Yet, Paul, in his past complicit in the killing of Christians, was now a missionary seeking Christian converts. His gratitude to God for His grace and mercy defined him as one who was motivated by love to follow His Savior and Lord Jesus in loving others to God. Being fully grateful to God in word and deed is our opportunity to show the world another world. As your gratitude sparks curiosity for Christ, be ready to boldly share your love for Christ.


Heavenly Father, help me praise and thank you during the difficult days and in the days without pain and suffering through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name. Amen.


What family in my life is a role model of being fully grateful even in hard times? What can I learn from them, and how can I apply my learning to my life?

Related Reading

Psalm 31:19, 37:11; John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Peter 3:15

Worship Resource

Anthony Brown/Fellowship Chorale: Praise Him


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