The Joy Of Gratitude

Imagine this scene...

You’re one of thousands of people following Jesus around. Walking all day in the hot sun with your family. You, your husband, and two little ones.

You kept hearing people talk of this Jesus and this new message He was bringing about the availability of God to regular people.

You need so much, but even more than all the practical stuff like food, water, means to pay the tax collector, etc., you just want to know if God cares about you, if God sees you.

Sure, God cares about the Pharisees and wealthy people, but you don’t have any material wealth, you don’t have any social status, you don’t have a shot at any kind of a decent life unless God does something extraordinary. If someone like you can access the blessing of God, then you could have hope.

So you come, and you see Jesus healing the sick indiscriminately. Rich, poor, it doesn’t seem to matter to Him. He’s healing people! He speaks this new message about the Kingdom of Heaven being open for all who recognize their need for God. There’s quite a buzz about Him. Some say He is the Messiah, some say He is a prophet, some even say He is God. You are swept up in the excitement in that crowd, and you would be on the edge of your seat - if you had a seat - waiting to see what good thing Jesus might do for you.

And then this happens. It’s recorded in John 6:5-7:

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Suddenly, you get an idea. You take out the tiny lunch you brought for your family and give it to your son and tell him to take it to Jesus. "Jesus is probably hungry. Take him our food," you say. Your boy runs up the hill through the crowd and gives his lunch to Andrew, who almost dismisses him, but then pauses and smiles. Taking your boy’s food to Jesus, Andrew lifts your son up on his shoulders with a grin, and says, “Watch this.”

More of the scene in John 6 unfolds:

Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

Your little lunch was something you were complaining about. You were tired of eating the same thing, and it barely being enough to fill you. Your little lunch wasn’t something that made you happy. No, in fact, your little lunch, your little house, your little wages, your little EVERYTHING in your life, has been the source of bitterness, comparison and pain.

When is it my turn to have more than a little? Why do I have to struggle with little when so many others have so much? Why me, Lord? Why?

But then you see Jesus on that day, taking your little lunch in his hands, and giving thanks to God for it. Why would He be thankful for that? It was stale bread and some bony fish, and Jesus was grateful for it. That never occurred to you - to be thankful for what little you have? Your eyes were always on the more you didn’t have, and it made you discontent, frustrated, and feeling like God had left you out.

But on this day, you wondered if, perhaps, being grateful for whatever you do have is the way to have real joy in your life. For the people who had everything they needed already, having Jesus multiply some baskets of bread and fish might not be a big deal. But for you, it’s as if God had selected you to see a miracle up close. It’s as if He wants you to know that whatever you have, a little or a lot, can be transformed in His hands.

That day on the hill with Jesus taught you something about joy and gratitude that you need to remember in every season of life: be grateful for what you have and be thankful in all circumstances. Bring it to Him. Trust God with all that concerns you and watch Him do miracles - not just for you, but for others around you. A grateful heart is the foundation of a joy-filled life. It’s like you’re always on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what good thing God will do.

“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.'  So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." - John 6:12-13

Co-host of Tracey and Dave on SHINE-FM.