April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
I started this “Thanksgiving” month off with a fresh dedication to cultivate gratitude with a vengeance! My to-do list challenged me to be thankful through each task... I was physically able to do this; had precious family in my life that would be blessed through that, etc. But to be honest, while I try to be a woman of thankfulness, I’m not naturally given to it. I could blame it on a whole host of things. But the reality is, I see what needs to be done more than I am content with what has been done. And that can be a positively wretched way to do life. That particular trait makes me someone who pursues excellence, but it can also drive me and everyone around me nuts! It can drain, more than it blesses. Rob more than it gives.
After some recent, deep, personal loss and a few other disappointments, my ability to be grateful has been tested more than normal - and I hope eventually grown. While I might wrestle to maintain the attitude of gratitude I wish sprung out of me more readily, I found a new, fresh bit of encouragement about what it means to truly be grateful as I prepared a word-study art journal devotional series.
In Scripture, gratitude is everything we imagine, but I think, from a Biblical standpoint, it’s even more than we imagine it to be. In preparing the Thankful Hearts Bible Study Art Journal, I loved the way God sovereignly picked two languages to capture the essence of “thanksgiving.”
In the Old Testament yadah and todah (two Hebrew words having to do with expressions of gratitude) are tied to confession. In fact, sometimes those words are used to describe the act of confessing sin. In the New Testament, the Greek for thanksgiving is eucharistos (and a few derivatives). The word is a compound word with charis at it’s root, which means grace. From beginning to end, God’s Word shows us that to be a people of thanksgiving, we will be a people wrapped in confession and grace.
We won’t be a plastic, happy people if we are thankful. We will be in touch with our brokenness. We will confess our need. We will live and breathe grace.
So this Thanksgiving season, I’m reaching for gratitude in a new way. In a more real and honest kind of it’s-ok-if-I’m-more-messy-than-I-want-to-be way. My gratitude isn’t solely resting on my ability to feel thankful (or unstressed, or unflustered, or even joyful); it isn’t only depending on my ability to count my blessings or stay in that happy place of contentment. It’s flopped down on God’s grace, with a heart of confession and need. There’s been some tears. There’s been a desperation mixed in. It wouldn’t make a pretty Norman Rockwell illustration. But in a new way, I am cherishing the beauty and love of God’s all-knowing wisdom that I can’t be the thankful person I want to be (even when I try so desperately), but I can be wrapped in confession and grace. So I will still try to be that woman of joyful gratitude. But I will do it while clinging to a confession of my need and shout of His grace.
If you’d like to join me for the Thankful Hearts Bible Study Art Journal, you can find the download here.