Fading gratitude is a terrible thing. Not being thinkful of our past not only keeps us from being thankful, but it also keeps us stuck in the past. And allowing gratitude to fade also sucks the life out of our every-day experiences.
Asaph told us about the manna that God provided for the Israelites to eat every single day that they were in the wilderness. He called it the bread of angels. But even this wasn’t enough for people who weren’t thinkful nor thankful. Instead, they craved more (Psalm 78:25-30).
The dictionary defines forgetfulness as “ceasing to think about something.” Gratitude, then, is to continue to think about Someone—that “Someone” being God who daily provides for us.
Fading gratitude brings two ugly realities:
(1) Discontentment. The dictionary calls this “a restless desire or craving for something one does not have.” In other words, it’s counting up what you don’t have instead of being grateful for what you do have.
(2) Entitlement. This is discontentment’s sickly twin sister. Where discontentment counts up what it doesn’t have, entitlement says, “I deserve what I don’t have!” Jesus told a story about entitled people who had been given land, a vineyard, and everything they needed to be successful with their farm. Yet when the owner of the farmland asked for his rightful payment, the renters thought they were entitled to keep it all.
There are serious—and potentially eternal—consequences for our unchecked discontented entitlement. Jesus said, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others” (Mark 12:9). And Asaph reported that for the discontented, entitled Israelites, “God’s anger rose against them; He put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel. … So He ended their days in futility and their years in terror” (Psalm 78:31, 33).
One of two things is going to happen: either we kill discontentment, or discontentment will kill us!
It’s not complicated to kill discontentment, but it is hard work. We kill discontentment with contentment. We learn to separate the dis from discontentment with the sword of gratitude!
The apostle Paul wrote “…I have LEARNED to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have LEARNED the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
One way to learn contentment is to keep reminders around you of all the things which with God has blessed you. Don’t let your gratitude fade for one moment!
Next week we will be wrapping up this series by considering what can happen to our future outlook if we let gratitude fade from our hearts and minds. I hope you can join me!