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Fundamental Gratitude

Living a Life of Thankfulness  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:23
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Several conversations and forums talking about a sense of fatigue, lack of interest in favorite activities, “flat, blah.”
Some research uncovers what psychologists are calling “pandemic fatigue.” It’s more than just being “over it.”
Rooted in understanding how we make decisions.
Cost/Benefit, cost/opportunity, Risk/reward - all describe the same process.
We assess what benefit we will derive from a decision as well as the cost attached to making that decision.
Whether it’s ignoring the alarm in the morning, deciding what to have for breakfast, to choosing to take a job or not, the process is about the same.
We measure what we think we’ll get from one choice or the other and what it will “cost” us in time, money, effort, reputation, etc.
Pandemic fatigue has become a problem because all of the choices we used to make almost automatically have been completely upended.
Many choices removed from our control.
If you had to work at home, now, so many new choices. What to wear, where to set up your office, what to do about interruptions from the kids and the cat.
How do I accomplish tasks that used to be a quick conversation in an office or the hallway?
Nearly every institution has been affected, including the church.
The accumulation of all these new decision processes has taxed our minds and our willingness to make new decisions.
The result has been, to some degree of intensity, a reprioritizing of our efforts.
So much of life that was satisfying and meaningful has lost luster and appeal.
While we’ll likely never get back to the way things used to be, we can deep meaningful interactions and relationships.
It begins with gratitude.
There’s a story early in the narrative of the Bible that describes a similar situation.

Stuck

Imagine being stuck in a small space with 7 other people (1 Peter 3.8) for one year without any chance of getting time to yourself.
While you’re at it, you’ve got two of every kind of animal ever created along with you. Imagine the noise and the smell.
Oh, by the way, most of the time, there’s an epic storm going on outside.
Most of us wouldn’t have made it a week like that much less a full year.
This is, of course, Noah’s story from Genesis 8.
Noah builds the ark, loads up with his family and God shuts the door.
Genesis 8:13–16 NLT
13 Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. 14 Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry! 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives.
One year after Noah and his family entered the ark.
Genesis 8:13–14 NLT
13 Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. 14 Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry!
God opens the hatch and tells Noah that they’re out of quarantine!
Genesis 8:15–17 NLT
15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. 17 Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”
Q: What’s the first thing you’d want to do after you get off that stinky boat?
Well, what’s some of the first things we started doing as soon as we could get out and do things this year?

I’m So Glad!

Noah’s first act after leaving the ark was to praise and worship God.
Genesis 8:20 NLT
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.
We might say, “well, yeah, of course he did. All those OT guys were always burning sacrifices.”
Not so fast. Noah was at least a thousand years before Moses (Ex. 20). There was no formal law or system of worship in place.
This was Noah’s own decision, not a regular practice by a group.
Offering sacrifices simply in praise wasn’t the common practice even among the pagans. They sacrificed to appease their false gods.
Noah’s instinctive reaction after being in a lockdown we can’t even imagine was to offer praise and gratitude to God.
Back to our question from a moment ago: What has been our first impulse lately? Has it been to worship?
Noah’s worship and gratitude to God reminds us that a deep and meaningful life flow out of a heart and mind of gratitude.

Saying “Thank You!”

I get to drive the tractor at the pumpkin patch on the weekends every now & then. When the kids get off the barrel train, moms & dads nearly always tell their littles, “say ‘thank you!’”
We need to be reminded to say “thank you!” sometimes.
Philippians 4:6 NLT
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
What are we grateful for? Why are we thanking God? (Thanksgiving/gratitude is a felt response to the favor, blessing, goodwill of God.)
Everything (can be) a blessing.
1 Timothy 4:4 NLT
4 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.
When we look up from our screens and away from our preoccupations, we’ll see so many things that God has given us personally and as His creation to give thanks for.
We can slow down a moment and experience the subtle graces God has given us.
Is it only at dinner time that we thank God?
Have we fallen into the trap of reciting the same 4-5 lines of thanks to God over and over?
Do we begin the day with praise and gratitude?

Living Gratitude

Colossians 3:17 NLT
17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Story of officer who convinced a man not to jump off a building.
Atlantic City crisis response team Officer Eric Knuttel responding to a suicidal man.
“I could hear it in his voice. Could hear him weeping. I just remember telling him I loved him. I thought he needed to hear that. I had so much compassion and so much love for the man that I wanted him to know that people care about him. I never met him ever in my life. I believe that I was put there in that moment of time for that reason.”
When we know and experience God’s grace, love and blessing, we respond in gratitude. Not just the words, but in action.
I hope none of us ever find ourselves in that kind of situation.
I expect, though, that we constantly encounter folks who need to hear that they are loved, that they are important.
When we are grateful to God for His love, we’re in a place to share that love with others.
Practicing gratitude, receiving and expressing God’s grace is the foundation for building a deep and meaningful life.
Our desire to express, receive and give grace (gratitude) is what makes life significant.
Stop for a time each day, look up and around you. Thank God for the infinite blessings He has given you.
Listen with an “ear of gratitude” for opportunities to bless people who are tired, hurting, lost, feeling insignificant. Give them some of your thankfulness. It will change your lives.
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