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An Attitude of Gratitude

What are YOU thankful for? Ponder this thought as you read Brian Miller's blog today, recounting how this very question led to ultimate deliverance from the destructive path his life was on.
When I was growing up, we almost always ate dinner together as a family—my dad and mom, me, and my three little brothers. Before we paused to give the Almighty thanks and indulged in whatever meal Mom had prepared, often she would ask us: “What are you thankful for?”
Growing boys are often starving, so we didn’t always appreciate her good intentions (nor the lesson it taught) as we went around the table and listed one thing, just one small thing, for which we were thankful. It was like pulling teeth sometimes, and if one of us became ornery, the answer would sometimes be an angry, emphatic “Nothing!”
But the lesson wasn’t lost on us for good, even though it sometimes was temporary. As Solomon wisely noted in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Obviously, experience tells us that many children have had a godly upbringing and haven’t followed those wise guidelines, but I can guarantee they haven’t forgotten it. I know, for I was one of those who preferred my own understanding to living in accord with God’s infallible wisdom.
Because of that preference, 15 years ago, I was nearing my lowest ebb. My sweet little brother Jonathan had died in an auto accident that spring, just shy of a year after I had barely survived a terrible car crash. Not only that, but a house fire had recently displaced me, and my vacated home had been burglarized. That wasn’t the half of it, and I was sliding into depression, drinking just to be able to sleep at night, to sleep without dreaming, to sleep the sleep of the dead.
The only things that kept my head above water were the prayers of those who loved me and were concerned for me. And, at a certain point, I determined that upon waking every morning, I would think of one thing, just one small thing, I was thankful for. That dinner table lesson instilled by my mom stuck with me.
Often, coming up with that one thing was, again, like pulling teeth, and I wished I could go back to sleep. Usually, that one thing was simple: “A roof over my head.” Or “This glass of water.” Or, with relief, that “I woke up.”
Sometimes, that initial one thing turned into five or ten or more. I can attest to the fact that having an attitude of gratitude was the start of something beautiful. Days could have ended in a lot worse places than they did had I not started each day on that positive note. Yet, there were still days when I was that hangry teenager who wasn’t thankful for “nothing, no-how.”

I can attest to the fact that having an attitude of gratitude was the start of something beautiful.

Even as I tried to fix things my way and still mostly turned my back to Him, God was uniquely using that one little thing to draw me back to Him. That’s right. Thankfulness eventually led me back to Him two years later when all my plans―no matter how well-laid or hastily ad-libbed―failed to come to fruition.
In the back of my mind, I always knew that God loved me—and don’t get me wrong, I was thankful for that—but I didn’t understand why or how He could love someone as screwed up as I was. Plus, I was independent and didn’t want any oversight; I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and if I crashed and burned, so be it. So, I crashed and burned, and but for God's matchless grace, I wouldn’t be here.
But here is what is so marvelous about God’s grace and forgiveness: One day, in abject misery, like the prodigal son, I came to my senses and realized that God loved me, truly loved me. He cared for me even when I made myself an enemy, rejected guidance, and ran far away.


When I finally called on Him, He rescued me from my despair, from my self-destruction.

Another lesson that had been impressed on me through my formative years was that even though we are but insignificant specks in this vast universe, we are created in His image and have intrinsic value to God, each of us unique and precious in His sight.
  • He loves us with an everlasting love and seeks to draw us to Himself with lovingkindness (Jeremiah 31:3) and sent His only Son to reconcile us, to provide the only way to cross―the Cross―the unbridgeable gap created by our sin.
  • Trusting in Jesus Christ’s once-for-all, satisfactory sacrifice not only gives us the ability to commune and enjoy fellowship with our Maker, the purpose for which we were created but also to be adopted into His family and become co-heirs with our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
  • And in the end, it is He to whom we ought to be thankful, both in comfortable and trying times.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” I was unwittingly drawing nearer by being thankful to the One from whom all blessings flow (James 1:17). When I finally called on Him, He rescued me from my despair, from my self-destruction. While not everything has come up roses (my fault for that), I have been beyond blessed and am so thankful for a life that’s been rebuilt in the 11 years since I made that decision.

1Corinthians 15:57
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am most thankful this Thanksgiving for the faithfulness of the promises of God, and I emphasize this again―not one of which will ever fail.

Matthew 5:18
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

He took my broken life and put it back together, and He will do the same for anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Similarly, Carl Kerby shared the following in his biography: “I hope that you will be encouraged to use your own life stories and your own testimony, your mosaic, to share with others how God has taken the broken pieces of your life and made something beautiful and valuable.”1
Remember, every moment is another chance. If you use those moments to dwell on what you do have to be thankful for, you will never be lacking. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.
1Carl Kerby, Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life. (Bartlesville, OK: Genesis Publishing Group, 2011), 232.
Author Bio:
Brian Miller is a longtime newspaper columnist and freelance writer. He and his wife Bethany, a fellow “preacher’s kid,” split their time between Eveleth, MN, and South Padre Island, TX. Brian seeks to use lessons learned in his life of God’s unchanging love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness to bring hope to others who may be struggling. You may write to him at bd1976@pm.me.

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