Welcome to Day 8 of the Thankful Hearts giveaway! Just as a reminder – You can keep up with all the posts in the giveaway series by clicking on the Thankful Hearts giveaway graphic in the sidebar. More chances to win each day!
Today, Sondra Kraak brings us an important reminder about what can steal our gratitude and how to refocus.
Gratitude has many enemies, but today, I’m grieving the thief of entitlement and how it has stolen the joy of gratitude from me and from others.
We are soaked daily in messages of individual rights, self expression, and personal identity, whether through advertising, social media, news venues, or academia. And I even see these messages wrapped with a gospel bow and presented in Christian forums as well. The sense that you are and I are free to be or do whatever we want, that we are okay just as we are in our natural empowered selves, pervades our culture’s worldview.
Consider the fallout over the election and the frenzy created on social media. If it’s demonstrated anything to me, it’s demonstrated our culture’s love affair with self. We love to hear ourselves talk. We love to prove ourselves right. What I’m feeling and thinking must be expressed right now, and if you disagree, you are labeled (buzz word alert!) intolerant. Intolerant is, I think, a fancy way to say someone is inhibiting free individual expression.
But here’s the deal. Narcissism kills gratitude. Obsession with my needs and identity undercuts the very foundation of thankfulness. Gratitude, by nature, looks out at others—and as a Christian, I believe it first and foremost looks up to Jesus Christ. Worship in spirit and truth is rooted in the person and work of Jesus, and gratitude is an expression of worship. When the eyes of the heart linger on self, false worship occurs (also called idolatry). When the eyes of the heart linger on our creator God, his glory, and the lordship of Jesus Christ, gratitude ensues. Because seeing Jesus as he truly is puts me in my place—on my knees in worship—and that’s such a thankful place to be.
Here’s the good news. I see an entire sub-culture of grateful people rising up. Strong voices are calling out the idolatry of self and urging others to look out and up. Intentional efforts of gratitude are rampant, thanks in large part to Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. I love to see people counting gifts of grace on social media. It’s a refreshing contradiction to the self-focused complaining that too often jams our feeds (and yes, I’m guilty of such posts. No finger-pointing here!).
Will you join me today in an effort to refocus? Let’s use these verses from Psalm 95:
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”
One of the books included in the Thankful Hearts giveaway is Sondra’s new novel and the first book in her Paths of Grace series, Such a Hope.
Washington Territory, 1871
Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle’s busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.
When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.
Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future—a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make.
A native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain, but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015).
Comment on this post by answering the question below and then head over to the kickoff page to claim the new entry for today!
Question for giveaway entry: How can you refocus on gratitude today?
Tomorrow we’ll hear from Joanne Bischof – plus another chance to win!