I often see the following quote on Social Media;
“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
It’s quite thought provoking isn’t it? It’s also been proven true by scientists. (*see footnote)
Joy – real joy, has very little to do with our outward circumstances; how much money we have, what sort of car we drive or how many pairs of shoes we own.
Joy, or the lack of it has nothing to do with the great relationships in our lives. All the magazines and advertisements condition us to believe that we will find what we need in these things, but it’s just not true.
Of course having a beautiful new pair of sparkly shoes might bring a momentary feeling of happiness, but this isn’t the the kind of joy that the Bible speaks of.
So, how do we find joy?……
Through having an attitude of gratitude.
I read an interesting psychology paper this morning; (*see footnote) Doctors have discovered that in general, our approach to joy is the wrong way around!
Most people believe that joy leads to gratitude. In other words, feelings of joy equal or lead to feelings of being grateful (for finding that joy.)
While this isn’t necessarily incorrect, studies, have shown that it’s the other way around – gratitude, especially the verbal expressing of it, leads to joy!
David – The King Who Counted His Blessings
King David understood and practiced this concept long before our modern day scientists made their “great discovery.”
Psalm 103 is an outpouring of gratitude to God. David starts off with
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1–5
“Forget not all His benefits” – David tells his own soul, “don’t forget all the things God has done for you!
We can so easily slip into a negative pattern of complaining, can’t we? I’m sure David was no different. David may have been a king, but life was hardly a bed of roses – as a leader he faced many battles and as a father and husband, many personal hardships. But David knew how to give himself a good talking to when he felt that cloud of complaint coming over- he had an attitude of gratitude.
I love this genuine, raw outpouring of David’s heart in
2 Samuel 7:18-22. . David expresses complete awe and wonder mingled with gratitude, that God would be so faithful to him and would make such a weighty promise to him and his descendants:
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, Sovereign Lord, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign Lord ? “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant. “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!
David’s life may not have been easy but he knew how to count his blessings and as a result he was a man filled with joy; Psalms of praise and joy flowed from him – many of which we still sing in our churches today.
Make a Gratitude List
I decided a few months ago to try listing 3 things every day that I’m grateful for, and to thank God for those things, early in the day before any grumbles grab hold. It’s actually surprising – there are always far more than 3 things, so I’m spoiled for choice!
That’s what David did in Psalm 103
Here’s his list, adapted from Psalm 103:1-5 in modern language – Mustard Seed Blog version 😊:
Dave’s Grateful List:
1. You forgive all my sin
2. You heal me – from all my sicknesses
3. You pulled me out of the deep pit I was in – literally saved me from hell
4. Your love and mercy is a crown on my head
5. Your goodness wraps around me like a warm, safe blanket
6. You renew me constantly, though outwardly I might be getting older, inwardly I’m growing stronger because of you.
What are you thankful for today?
Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.
By Emmons, Robert A.,McCullough, Michael E.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 84(2), Feb 2003, 377-389
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