Study Guide: Gratitude | November 2016
Wow. I can’t believe it’s already a new month!
First I need to take a minute and thank each and everyone of you for your kind words, comments and engagement with last month's study guide (which you can find HERE). When you kick start a project like this you can only pray and hope that maybe someone, somewhere will be benefit - but man, your support and excitement about these guides had me in tears. Thank you! You are the reason each and everyone of us here at The Small Seed do what we do. So thank you for being here and for growing your faith along-side us!
With that, I’m excited to introduce you to this month's study guide on gratitude!
Now, I know gratitude seems like a topic that we talk about a lot. If we're not careful it can be just another word we throw around, without ever really stopping to think of its power. Yet, as I knelt down in prayer this month to create this guide, I felt a yearning to dig deeper. I wanted God to show me hidden gems about gratitude that could take me to the next level of understanding.
And He did! But in a completely different way than I was suspecting.
To be totally transparent, I’ve actually spent most of the month locked in my closet sobbing. My anxiety has been super intense and the weight of my own personal trials combined with the darkness of the world has had me doubting my ability to truly give "thankful in all things." (And frankly I started to believe that my quest to understand gratitude more deeply was about as dumb as asking for more patience. Ha!)
But don’t worry. The story gets better and despite my doubt, it was and IS worth it.
So, after a drawn-out pity party in my closet—I bucked up and decided to put gratitude to the test. I said a prayer that I would be open to what God was trying to teach me and then I dug in and started to study.
First I was lead to Christ’s life.
Prior to feeding the multitude, He gave thanks. Prior to raising Lazarus from the dead, He gave thanks.
Then I was led to Paul’s life.
Where again, this example is shown. Prior to being miraculously set free in prison, Paul and Silas sing praises to God. As I read these accounts my mind was open to the power of giving gratitude, even for the answers and things we have not yet received. By giving thanks first, wouldn’t we be exercising faith in on a whole new level? Instead of asking for peace when I felt anxious, what If I thanked God for the peace I felt as though I truly believed He would answer?
So, there in my closet with smeared mascara all over my face, I knelt in prayer. Instead of asking for everything that I hoped for, I thanked God for everything that I knew He had the power to bless me with. I thanked Him for the happiness, joy and peace that I felt. I thanked Him for the strength and patience I was experiencing while waiting for answers to come, and I thanked Him for everything in my life that I was feeling stressed about.
And you know what? Something happened. My circumstances didn’t change, but my faith did. Immediately after giving thanks my anxiety was calmed, my fear melted, and I knew that God was with me. I knew that He was there and I could not deny His goodness.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend....Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
— Melody Beattie
This past week God gave me a hidden gem that not only transformed my testimony of gratitude, but also the way I pray. The beautiful thing about scripture study is that God reaches each of us right where we are. Though what you learn this month will likely be different from what I learned, I testify that as you dig in and study His words, that He too will show you hidden gems just for you, that can transform your life for the better, in just the way that you need.
I'm so excited to hear from you—to hear your experiences and what you learn this month. Don't forget to share with our community by tagging any insights you share on social media with #nourishtheseed so we can all grow together! I know as you share your experiences not only will others' lives be blessed, but so will yours!
And again, thank you for being here. Thank you for being a part of this community. We love you!!