He sorted through the mail, pressed the latest bill on the table and looked at me with compassion in his eyes. My husband, Kevin, knew full well that our medical debt stirred up huge amounts of anxiety within me.
"We'll get through this," he assured me.
I wasn't so sure.
What happened to us? How did we get here? And how would we ever get through this financial stress?
The truth is, we had encountered one crisis after another through no fault of our own. And, I have to admit, we had become hit-and-miss tithers. All because of fear.
But when is fear ever a good motivator for a Christian?
Right in the midst of our storm, we decided that we either needed to live like God's promises were true, or we needed to stop referring to ourselves as believers. If we could trust Jesus with our eternity, surely we could trust Him with our finances, right?
Honestly, we'd seen time and time again throughout our marriage how unbelief impacted our relationship. When we feared our circumstances more than we trusted God's promises, we pulled inward, and even away from each other — never with a good result. And, when we fixed our eyes on what we wanted instead of thanking God for what we already possessed, we missed the wonder of His goodness in the here and now. Our small-mindedness made us cling to all the wrong things.
We needed to pause to simply remember that Jesus opens His hands and promises provision for us. We have every reason to give thanks. And His goodness makes us grateful.
I looked around and saw evidence of God's kindness right in front of me. And the more I thanked Him for the blessings in my life, the more clearly I saw my life from His perspective. I realized that ingratitude binds me and blinds me, whereas thankfulness frees me to more clearly see what's actually true about God's involvement in our circumstances.
So in that place of financial hardship and instability, Kevin and I got down on our knees, bowed our heads and asked God's forgiveness for allowing our fears to get in the way of our obedience. Then we resolved to live with gratitude and never hold back the tithe.
And God whispered to both our hearts, I want you to keep an eye open for those around you. There will always be someone within your reach you can help. You always posses more than you know, and I intend to meet some of the world's needs through you.
That moment, all those years ago, changed everything for us. Kevin and I got up from that place with grateful hearts and a renewed perspective. We determined we would give thanks to God as a way of life, and we would be on the lookout for those who were in need of what God had given us.
After 30 years of marriage, we've experienced many of the benefits of living a grateful life. We've learned that:
- Gratitude brings godly perspective.
- Gratitude is good for your health (physically, emotionally and spiritually).
- Gratitude is contagious.
- Gratitude pleases the heart of God.
- Gratitude inspires generosity.
The holiday season is a perfect time to count your blessings and to offer thanksgiving to our good God. See if your heart change doesn't impact your mood, your relationships and your perspective. You may even be surprised to find that expressing gratitude to God will make a difference in your marriage. Go on — give thanks!