Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

gratitude Archive



October 2021

The Grateful Retrospect

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Read more about the grateful retrospect on hopereflected.com

Throughout the Old Testament, the children of Israel were told to remember how the Lord led them out of Egypt

One would think that such a significant event – which involved a whole people group leaving the land with all their belongings and more, witnessing the magnificent parting of the Red Sea and the crossing thereof, and the destruction of the entire Egyptian army – would be something that people would remember forever. And yet, they needed constant reminding because they were so quick to forget. “…beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” (Deuteronomy 6:12).

The disciples found themselves in a similar situation as they tried to navigate stormy seas

After the Lord walked to them on the water and calmed the wind, “they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:51-52). The disciples got caught up in their current circumstances and forgot about the miracle that they had witnessed earlier that evening when Jesus fed the five thousand. They shouldn’t have been surprised that Jesus came to them in the middle of the storm, for He had just taken a couple of fish and five loaves of bread and created a feast with leftovers. And yet, they were quick to forget.

Psalm 18:16-20 - Read more about the grateful retrospect on hopereflected.com

David made a point of remembering and meditating on the Lord, and all that He had done for him.

Hope Reflected

In Psalm 103:2, David said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”. Unless we’re actively working to remember, we have a tendency to forget. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands,” David later wrote in Psalm 143. David made a point of remembering and meditating on the Lord and all that He had done for him. It is wisdom when we do likewise. Some people choose to keep a prayer journal to record prayer requests and praises, while others make a point of offering thanksgiving during prayer before making requests.

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." (Psalm 103:2) Read more about the grateful retrospect on hopereflected.com

Whatever we do, we should remember God’s blessings to us, because they are many.

When the path seems dark and when there are storms on the sea, we have a hard time remembering the goodness of the Lord. “For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28). In the midst of turmoil, David wrote Psalm 18, where he recalls to mind all the ways that God has delivered him in the past. Spurgeon called it “the grateful retrospect”. “He…drew me out of many waters.” (v 16), “He delivered me,” (v 17), “He brought me forth… he delighted in me. The LORD rewarded me…” (vv 19-20). Though he was enduring an incredibly stressful and uncertain time, David remembered the goodness of the Lord. As Spurgeon said, “The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through them all.” How’s our memory doing? It helps us to remember when we practice the grateful retrospect.

Originally published as “The grateful retrospect.” Independent Plus. May 21, 2021: 5. Print. Web.



March 2020

Thoughts around thankfulness

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“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” (G.K. Chesterton) | Read more at hopereflected.com

We should get in the habit of gratitude

A.W. Tozer once said that, “gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God. And it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” We often read throughout the Bible about the importance of thankfulness in our every day lives, but the reality is that most of us are more quick to take our blessings for granted than to show gratitude.

Thankfulness is an attitude

Thankfulness need not be an elaborate planned event – such as the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate each year – thankfulness is something that once a spark is created, can turn into an ever-burning fire. It’s an attitude that we can cultivate, regardless of the time of year.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,”. Consider your own thoughts for a moment. How often do we think of a particular someone throughout the day: A spouse, mother, father, child, sister, brother, niece, nephew, or even our co-workers? Chances are, we think of several or all of the aforementioned many times throughout the day. And yet, how often do we give thanks for them? Paul wrote that he thanked God on every remembrance of his friends. A prayer of thanks, no matter how short, so long as it is genuine, is heard by God.

Thankfulness is our duty

An attitude of gratitude is part of our calling as Christians. Did you know we have a duty to thankfulness? Paul wrote in his second letter to the church at Thessalonica that, “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you,” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). We are bound to give thanks! Despite the second epistle to the Thessalonians being written after a somewhat discouraging description of coming events, Paul exhorts fellow believers that we should be thankful to God for all His blessings and for what He has called us to. He is our Comforter, our Rock, our Buckler, our High Tower, our Salvation! His blessings are everlasting.

Not only should thankfulness be part of the Christian’s character, it’s something we should do unceasingly. We’re all familiar with 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “pray without ceasing,” and for some reason we don’t as easily remember the other “cease not” counsel found in Ephesians 1:15-16: “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;” We should cease not to give thanks. We should get in the habit of gratitude.

“Thanks are the highest form of thought”

Small utterances of praise throughout the day can make all the difference in your life.  As G.K. Chesterton said, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say, grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and the pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Originally published as “Thoughts around thankfulness” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. November 28, 2019: 6. Print. Web.



November 2017

Hope Reflected | The Grateful Heart

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"That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14 The Grateful Heart | See more at hopereflected.com

The Grateful Heart

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving comes and goes in the blink of an eye. In fact, here we are less than a month after Canadian Thanksgiving, and you’re more than likely already thinking about other things. More than a choice, having an attitude of gratitude the whole year through is possible when you have a grateful heart. So what are the characteristics of a grateful heart?

  1. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances. “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Take note of this portion of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. He says, “in every thing give thanks.” Not “in some things,” or “in happy things.” In every thing we are to give thanks. Can that ever be a challenge or what?! There are some things and times in which I just don’t want to give thanks! Even in challenging times or difficult seasons, we’re called to give thanks, even if it’s for the little things (because really, the little things are the big things, aren’t they?). Don’t concentrate on the circumstances that will always change; focus on God Who will never change and Who will always be there for you. The grateful heart seeks God regardless of circumstances.
  2. The grateful heart wants to help others. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others.” (Hebrews 13:16) We’re called on several times throughout the Bible to help others. It’s not always going to be convenient, and it’s not always going to be easy. In fact in Hebrews 13:16 “to do good and to share with others” is referred to as a sacrifice. The grateful heart wants to help others. Maybe for some that means lending a helping hand, or for others, it could mean being a listening ear. Whatever the case, we are encouraged in Galatians 6:2 to “carry each other’s burdens.”
  3. The grateful heart is content. “Be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5) The grateful heart remains focused on what it already has rather than looking for fulfillment in other places. I’ve written before about the importance of contentment, and a sure sign of a grateful heart is one that’s focused on all it’s been blessed with. You may have heard the old adage, “the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greenest where you water it.” This wisdom is true. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing with us when we leave (1 Timothy 6:7) so where’s your focus? The grateful heart is content with what it already has.

Above all, the grateful heart realizes and treasures what is truly important. What’s in your heart? Is your heart a home for our Lord and Saviour? Or is your heart focused on building an earthly empire? Your answer will determine your eternity. The only One who can truly satisfy the human heart is the One who made it. There’s a longing in each heart that only Christ can fill (Psalm 90:14).

Originally published as “The Grateful Heart.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 12, 2017: 7. Print. Web.



August 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | Attitude of Gratitude

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What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday? | See more at hopereflected.com

“What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday.”

This quote really resonated with me, and I was immediately convicted. It was the middle of the week, on a day where I hadn’t really taken much time throughout the day to be in conversation with God. This quote really spoke to me and reminded me of the importance of taking the time to give thanks, to express gratitude.

I’ve written before in my column about the importance of developing an attitude of gratitude, rather than getting caught up complaining about our circumstances.

What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday? Can you imagine?

Take time today to thank the Lord for His goodness and His blessings. Take time to give thanks for the people in your life who care about you. The world would be a better place if we all took time to give thanks!

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his lovingkindness endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)

“What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday.”



January 2017

Wednesday Wisdom | When you love what you have, you have everything you need

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love what you have

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.”

In my column, “Some Habits Are Actually Good,” I talked about learning to be content with yourself. You learn contentment when you make the choice to stop comparing yourself to others and competing with others. The grass isn’t greener on the other side; the grass is greenest where you water it.

You learn contentment when you continually give thanks and practice an attitude of gratitude.

You learn to love what you have when you’re content.

So what does the Bible say about contentment and gratefulness?

  • “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13
  • “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
  • “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7
  • “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'” Luke 12:15
  • “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:3-4
  • “So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house,” Deuteronomy 26:11
  • “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” Psalm 126:3
  • “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 118:1

There are so many verses throughout the Bible about contentment and gratefulness. The key to contentment is living with an attitude of gratitude, and the key to loving what you have is learning contentment!

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.”



March 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Ways to Be Encouraged

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This column was originally published in early February 2016, in the midst of winter.

So far this winter, – knock on wood, – has been relatively mild, bright, and manageable. We’re just over halfway through the season, and there haven’t been too many days filled with dark skies and endless grey clouds. And for that, I’m thankful (seasonal affective disorder sufferers, rejoice!). That being said, it’s most common that when we reach just beyond the halfway point – whether in seasons, personal or professional goals, or schoolwork, – that we can begin to feel restless or ready to give up. If you’ve ever fought feelings of discouragement, you know what I mean. For those times when you’re feeling down, fatigued, or even restless, a little encouragement can go a long way.

I’m thankful to be surrounded by several people who inspire courage, and I’m also aware that sometimes the people who freely give support or encourage others are the very people who need encouragement the most!

If you’re reading this today and you find yourself fatigued, or restless, or in need of a little pick-me-up, here are three ways to find encouragement today:

  1. Write a gratitude list. David said in Psalm 103:2 (KJV), “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits”. If you need some encouragement, count your blessings and create a gratitude list. It’s easier said than done, but often I take for granted the very things that people in other parts of the world long for – a peaceful neighbourhood, a pillow for my head, and a place to call home. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of God’s blessings.
  2. Go for a walk or pick up some flowers. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 (KJV), Solomon wrote that, “He [God] hath made every thing beautiful in his time”. Even though I don’t have a green thumb, I always find it encouraging to be surrounded by flowers and other examples of God’s creativity and handiwork. It’s amazing how a walk outdoors and some fresh air can help you feel encouraged.
  3. Get into God’s Word. Not familiar with the Bible? The Psalms are a great place to start, and within those pages you’ll find some of the most encouraging truths. These timeless poems and songs contain some of the most poignant phrases, which are uplifting to read and to recall to mind.

There are more than three ways you can encourage yourself, but these three provide an effective starting point. It is true what they say, that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. It’s an incredible gift to serve others, but don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. It’s easier to encourage another when you’re at a place of positivity!


Originally published as “3 Ways to Be Encouraged.” Minto Express. February 10, 2016: 5. Print.



February 2016

Hope Reflected: The Link Between Gratitude and Love

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In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

About this time last year, I wrote a column on the importance of practicing an attitude of gratitude. While it’s pretty easy to understand that thanksgiving and gratitude go hand in hand, all this talk of gratitude and expressing thanks has got me thinking – how closely linked are gratitude and love?

You know how when you’re thankful for a person or object, you express gratitude? Gratitude is a way of placing value on someone or something. This is similar to what you do when you love: You place value on whatever happens to be the object of your love.

I’m a huge believer that having an attitude of gratitude helps a person to be more joyful (if you don’t believe me, try it)! And, I’m also convinced that the more we learn to show our gratitude for the people and things around us; the more we open ourselves up to love.

Here are three tips if you’re looking to live with more love in your life:

  1. Keep a gratitude list. Or a journal, or a prayer book. Whatever you call your version, don’t forget to make notes on the people and things for which you’re thankful. It doesn’t have to be every day, but at least once a week make a gratitude note. It can be as simple as “I woke up this morning” (because let’s be honest, the gift of life each day and the ability to get out of bed is something we all take for granted).
  2. Pay it forward. Doesn’t have to be anything super-elaborate – even the simple act of buying coffee for the girl or guy behind you in the drive-thru lineup can make someone’s day! Send flowers to a friend or significant other on a day chosen at random (i.e., not their birthday, your anniversary, and not Valentine’s Day). Hand write a note of thanks to someone who’s recently impacted your life for the better.
  3. Take time to give thanks. This is a very difficult thing for many people, myself included. There is something so wonderful about taking time to just be. Having time to yourself, or time reserved for loved ones is an amazing, easy way to see and soak up life’s little blessings. Too often we get caught up in the fast-paced world around us, but I find for myself, it’s those moments – where I’m holding the hand of someone I love instead of my phone, making eye contact with my family and friends rather than staring at a cold computer screen, or putting my feet up and reading a book rather than running around doing work – when I slow down, that I actually have time to think. And when I think, I can’t help but be amazed at all of the blessings in my life. Might take some brain training, to focus on the positive instead of the next item on your to-do list, but trust me, it can be done.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that above items are all directly related to gratitude. Really, I don’t think we can properly love without sharing our gratitude.  Both virtues live in our hearts and it’s up to us to express them. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude.”


Originally published as “The Link Between Love and Gratitude”. Minto Express. February 11 2015: 5. Print.



January 2015

Hope, She Wrote: Three Factors of Friendship

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We’re less than one week into the new year, and already I’m counting several reasons to be thankful for my closest friends. If you’re someone who has ever struggled to fit in, then you’ll appreciate these three characteristics of true friends. Friends, thank you.

True friendship

Always one to look on the bright side, I sat down the other night and added some items to my gratitude list (taking a queue from Bing Crosby’s “Count Your Blessings”), and because many of my gratitude items are directly related to people, I really got thinking about all the incredible humans that I’m so blessed to call friends.

The word “friend” is defined as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection”. [FYI, the word “friend” is also listed as a verb, to “add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website,” but we won’t even go into the disingenuous disposition of social networking at this time.]

When I was in middle school, I really struggled to fit in. (Shocking, right?) In high school, I made a couple of lifelong friends, and in college, my path crossed with another great group of people, who today remain some of my nearest and dearest (even though we’re all living in various countries throughout the world – literally). And since moving to small-town Clifford, I’ve been blessed to find what I’d call a few really solid, true-blue, best friends.

The thing about friendship is that in order to have friends, you’ve got to be a friend. It took me a while to learn this. It’s like the old adage, “Don’t wait for people to be friendly. Show them how.” Well, I’m no expert, but I’d venture to say that one of the key components of true friendship is that the street goes both ways. Friendship is one of those things for which we have to decide to make time. Family, work schedules, travel – all of these things take time. And friendship is no different.

A few columns ago, I wrote about nurturing the hearts of others, and part of that means savouring sweet moments with friends, and letting them know that you care. Here are three factors of friendship that I’m thankful for:

  1. Friendship that is based on genuine mutual interests and a listening ear. There’s something so powerful about a set of friends who truly care about each other not just on a personal level, but spiritually as well. These are friends who typically have best interests at heart. This is something I’m thankful for, as well friendships where listening is just as important as talking.
  2. Friendship that can span miles, and years, without changing. Ever had a friend, with whom you lost touch, only to reconnect with them a few years later, – or maybe even after a decade – and it’s as though nothing at all has changed (except maybe your laugh lines are deeper)? Yeah, I’m thankful for those friendships.
  3. Friendship without conditions. There will always be those people who want to connect and “be friends” for their own selfish benefit. But, as we all know, friendship requires a certain amount of selflessness (seems obvious, but srsly, some people…). You can’t be in it for your own benefit or based on your own conditions (otherwise it’s not true friendship). I’m thankful for friends who are my friends regardless of circumstances or what I can do for them (and vice versa). Charles Spurgeon once said, “you may judge of a man’s character by the persons whose affection he seeks. If you find a man seeking only the affection of those who are great, depend upon it he is ambitious and self-seeking; but when you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.”

What are the friendships that you’re thankful for? Don’t just keep your gratitude to yourself – share it with your friends!


Originally published as “Three Factors of Friendship”. Minto Express 22 October 2014: 5. Print.