Last week, I prayed that we would be like Joseph in the Bible, who after many years of confinement, betrayal, and false accusations, refused resentment, and because of it, saw the hand of God working in the darkest places. Joseph named his two sons according to his spiritual journey of finding hope in hardship.
Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. "For," he said, "God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house." The name of the second he called Ephraim, "For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction".
Genesis 41: 51-52 ESV
These words are like barbs to the indignant heart. I know because I have been there. In our crossness, the last thing we care to hear is “Give it up!” But that is exactly what gratitude demands. Gratitude is more than a single act, but a mindset and culture that is embraced as we navigate the gauntlet of life.
All this said, the journey from resentment to gratitude is not an easy one. The benefits alone however should drive us to let go resentment.
Where resentment takes away life, gratitude gives life. Where resentment blinds, gratitude helps you see the beauty even amidst the pain.
Gratitude is far more powerful than resentment because through God’s grace, it finds a way to convert pain into a force for healing in the world. Gratitude fueled the faith of the martyrs, making them “more than conquerors”. Gratitude animates the "breakthrough" mindset that refuses to be defined by pain and tragedy. Gratitude frames in a godly world view whereby we can interpret our experiences. Oswald Chambers spoke of letting God give you the lens to see life through. He called it "holy disillusionment". Gratitude helps us detox from the false illusion that “my life should have looked a certain way”.
But how do we come out of resentment and into gratitude? How do we bridge that dangerous gulf between anger and celebration? Through God’s grace, we must let go. It’s always more difficult to hold on to something than it is to let it go. It’s easier to save a drowning man who gives up than one who is grasping at his rescuer. So the question is: If you are in that dark abyss called resentment, will you let God save you by letting go? Developing a culture of gratitude is learning to let go as a daily reflex. You release those dark memories of betrayal and pain, without giving it credence, and embrace the joy God has for you for this moment.
These holidays, as you look at your life, do you only see the negative things that happened, or do you see your Manasseh and your Ephraim?