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  • Writer's pictureHope Stuart


As I compiled my thoughts for this post, I (once again) struggled with finding a message that would resonate and inspire, be memorable and genuine… okay… just plain stand out from the rest. We are bombarded with a bunch of sentiments related to being thankful as the holidays approach. So, what do I have to add to this message? Uhhh… hmmm… YUP! Uhhh and hmmm… that’s some inspiring stuff! And then it happened… AGAIN… the power went out! I am telling you… God knows how to get my attention!

As we ate dinner in front of our fireplace, I contemplated all that I had to be thankful for at that moment. I was thankful for the warmth and light that was generated from the fireplace. I was thankful for the meal that was prepared prior to the power outage. I was even thankful for the recipe I recently discovered: a layer of potatoes, covered with pork chops that were smothered (yes, SMOTHERED) in cream of mushroom soup and onion soup mix. Full disclosure… I was even MORE thankful for our generator that restored our power until the actual power came back on!

Yes, I was extremely thankful for our generator; however, during the time between the power going out and coming back on, I realized how much I have adjusted my focus during the past year. I used to have a victim mentality and now I have a victor mentality (thanks for the verbiage Joel Osteen!). When circumstances are less than optimal, I shift my focus from myself to my God. I focus on what He has provided for me… how He supplies my every need. I focus on what these circumstances can teach me, NOT… why me. I focus on how I can give Him the glory through this situation, NOT how I am going to control the situation.

This realization inspired me to do some research regarding the difference between being THANKFUL and being GRATEFUL. These words are often used interchangeably, especially around Thanksgiving. Come to find out… although these words are used commonly as synonyms for each other, they do have different applications, which caused me to pause at this new epiphany. Are you ready for a grammar lesson? If not, skip to the end. If I piqued your interest, keep reading.

Here’s the grammar lesson for the day from The Oxford Dictionary: Being THANKFUL means being “pleased and relieved” while the word GRATEFUL means “showing an appreciation of kindness”. THANKFUL is a feeling while GRATEFUL is an action. Diving deeper, I learned that being THANKFUL is a feeling one person can experience without any human interaction. One can feel THANKFUL when they are all alone during a power outage. On the other hand, an attitude of gratitude is applied when something is done for you or… given to you. This means that another person… or even group of people… has personally given or done something for you. Therefore, with a laser-like focus on God and all He provides, you can feel GRATEFUL even when you are alone in a power outage.

While 2020 has adjusted my perspective on many things, my overarching focus for this year is on the One who holds me in the palm of His almighty hand. Hmmm… hold onto your hats for this wisdom... WAIT. FOR. IT: The year 2020, with all its craziness and beyond, has provided me with a clear (2020 vision) focus. Couple my clear 2020 vision with my new understanding of being GRATEFUL, while reflecting on what God has given me, and I realize that I am in a constant state of being GRATEFUL. Not only has God provided me with everything that I have here on earth: my loved ones, my security, my home, my God-given gifts… God has GRACIOUSLY given me the ultimate gift… the gift of His Son. His Son, Jesus, is an indescribable gift… a gift that keeps on giving from now through eternity. The salvation we receive from the ultimate price Jesus paid for each one of us on the cross is a priceless gift that ensures we, as believers, will live in eternity with God. Now that is something to be perpetually GRATEFUL for!

Most of you know that I began writing a gratitude journal right before Easter Sunday. I have logged over 1,250 things I am GRATEFUL for. Each and every one of my entries has God as my source. My constant state of being GRATEFUL has cleared my mind to focus on Him and His priceless gifts… both worldly and eternal gifts. He has been my guiding light throughout this year of uncertainty and unprecedented struggles. He is my light source through it all… even during a power outage. When you place your trust and faith in Him, you are able to faithfully follow Him in any situation, even in a year like no other. When you walk with Him in the light, you can follow Him in the darkness.

As you reflect on this past year, I pray that you will be THANKFULLY GRATEFUL; shifting your focus from being THANKFUL to being GRATEFUL… in God’s gifts. Immerse yourself in an attitude of GRATEFULness as you put a period on this crazy year and look to the hope of a new year (and perspective) to come. And remember, when you walk with Him in the light, you can follow Him in the darkness. Regardless of your circumstances, know that you are NEVER alone, whether you are immersed in light or consumed in darkness. With God, you are NEVER alone. Instead, you are forever… THANKFULLY GRATEFUL.

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