Cultivating a Grateful Heart

It’s Sunday morning. For the very first time since you have been attending this church, the Pastor gave you a slot to take a Bible reading during the service. You had been looking forward to this service. Had practised over and over again how you were going to read the 8 verse Bible passage given you. To ensure you weren’t late for church, you had gotten the outfit you were going to wear ready the previous night. You get into the shower to have a bath. You turn on the tap, water doesn’t come out. You try to pump water only to discover the pumping machine is bad. Of course, there are many other options: fetch water from the well at the backyard, knock at your neighbour’s door and tell her about the problem and get some water from her place, or if the worse comes to the worst, you turn the water in a fridge or water dispenser into a bucket and have your bath. But as you are about to start with any of these options, you discover a much bigger problem. You are locked in. Your husband locked the main entrance when he left for the airport an hour ago and mistakenly took both your keys. There goes your chance of taking that reading you were so looking forward to!

Life doesn’t usually go the way we planned. Awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing situations show up from time to time. What do you do when things don’t go according to your plans? How do you respond when both your Plan A and Plan B option meet with a roadblock? What’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth when you are faced with a problem?

In Numbers 20: 1-8, there was a problem. The Israelites needed water and there was no water in sight. What did they do? They started whining, complaining and quarreling with Moses. The same people who had been going through years of brutal slavery and severe suffering in Egypt, told Moses that it would have been better if he had left them in Egypt.

Repeatedly, the Israelites demonstrated an attitude of ingratitude towards God.  They had a tendency to forget the goodness of God and just focus on what they didn’t have. When they complained and quarrelled with Moses about not having water, God gave Moses some instructions on how to resolve the problem and meet their need. The first of which was to “take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together…” (Numbers 20: 7-8). The only instruction God gave to Moses about the staff was just to bring it along not use it to strike the rock or for anything else for that matter. Why did God want Moses to take the staff if he wasn’t going to use it? Taking the staff was symbolic; it was to remind the people of all the great miracles God wrought through a staff to bring them out of Egypt. It was to remind them of God’s goodness and mercies, God’s intervention at a critical point in their lives. How He had encircled them with His love; cared for them and guarded them. How the staff had done miracles never heard of before; how it parted the Red Sea for them to walk on dry ground and saved them from the hand of their enemies. Bringing the staff before them was God’s way of  saying to them have you forgotten so fast all that I have done for you, all that my power is capable of doing?

The staff of Moses; the staff of remembrance of God’s awesome power and amazing goodness was to be brought before the people before water started flowing out of the rock. God wanted the Israelites to remember what He had done and appreciate Him for what He had done before water started flowing out of the rock; before the problem was solved, before their need was met. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances”. All circumstances mean both good and unpleasant situations. It includes times that water is flowing from the rock; times that there’s a miracle, a testimony and breakthrough. It also includes those times when water isn’t flowing out of the rock; those times when nothing is happening, there’s a challenge, there’s a difficulty.

If today happens to be one of those awkward and uncomfortable days or there’s no “water”; no money to pay your children’s school fees or house rent, no money to start or expand your business, no money to pay the hospital bill, or if your own situation is that there’s no husband even though you have been praying for years for this, there’s no child in spite of all you have done medically and spiritually, God wants you to remember, recollect and reflect on His goodness in your life. When we are faced with a problem or there’s a need in our lives and we can’t figure out how the problem can be solved or need met, what God simply wants us to do is to bring our “staff of remembrance of God’s goodness” to the scene and burst into thanksgiving. Thank Him for how He brought you out of your own Egypt situation, how He has parted health, financial, marital Red Seas in times past. Thank Him that you are alive and so there’s hope that things will get better.  Thank Him that against all odds; despite all the enemy has done to try to ruin your marriage, home, business, career and ministry, you are still in the faith; still standing. Thank Him that problems and troubles of all shapes and sizes have come your way, but they haven’t been able to consume you because of God’s mercies that are new every morning. Thank Him for all He has spared you from. Thank Him for being faithful to you even when you haven’t been faithful, thank Him for not treating you according to your sins. Thank God for loving you so deeply and passionately He gave up His Son to die for you.

Our faith is activated as we focus on what God has done and can do (Lamentations 3:21-24, 1 Chronicles 16:8-12). Peace replaces worry as we give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7). Doubt, fear, discouragement and negativity sets in when we just dwell on our need or the problem before us (Matthew 14:22-31).  Thanksgiving is not a one day event. It is a lifestyle. Our natural response to all the “no water” situations that come our way should be gratitude and thanksgiving for past and present blessings. It won’t always be easy to give thanks when there’s “no water” but it is necessary if we want to please God and have Him smiling on us (Hebrews 12:28-29, Numbers 6:25).


Father, forgive me for all the times I have taken Your love and blessings for granted. Forgive me for not valuing what You have given me. O Lord, deliver me today from ingratitude, murmuring and complaining. Give me a heart of thanksgiving. Help me to thank You in all circumstances. As I give You thanks, I walk away from doubt, fear and depression, I walk out of that problem and walk into a divine solution, I walk away from impossibilities into possibilities, I walk into my victory in Christ Jesus. In Jesus mighty name I pray. AMEN!


PHOTO CREDIT: Shaun Frankland on Unsplash

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