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THE WONDERS OF GRATITUDE

The blessing of having a grateful heart


Copyright 2018 Kwaku S. Darkwa MD

Published by Kwaku S. Darkwa at Smashwords



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We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”

Alphonse Karr,

A Tour Round My Garden




Grateful souls are like fields full of fragrant roses.”

Kwaku S. Darkwa

DEDICATION

To Rev. Baafour Ohene Abankwa, thank God our paths crossed. It has been a blessing being your friend.

CONTENTS

Introduction

1. Divine Access

2. True Gratitude

3. Living Simply

4. The Invisible Shield

5. Conditioned for the Mysterious

6. True Wholeness

7. Activating Grace

8. Ignoramus

9. The Dance of the Lord

10. Resurrection Power

11. Delayed and Aborted Promises

12. Empowering the Can-Do Spirit.

13. The Dangers of Envy.

CHAPTER ONE DIVINE ACCESS

Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.”

The Hausa of Nigeria

Gratitude is supposed to be a ‘language’ spoken and expressed by people called and cleansed by God. It is what the redeemed should express daily; it is supposed to be seen in their actions and inferred in their speech. It endears the redeemed to their God. It is a truth that God can never really be experienced by the ungrateful. Gratitude is a ‘heavenly language’, and those who have not learned to appreciate and speak it, cannot be ‘accepted’ into the manifest presence of God.

Those who belong to the realm where God dwells exude gratitude. This is exactly what the invisible heavenly hosts sing about: gratitude to God and praises to the great King of the universe. They appreciate the ruler of the boundless universe; no wonder they dwell in His very presence. John the Revelator, when he was allowed to see what happens in the heaven of heavens, had this to say about those who dwell in the very presence of God:

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever.

They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things, and by your will, they were created and have their being."

—Revelation 4:9-11

A heart of gratitude lives with a consciousness of God. A state of God-consciousness is a vital requirement to experience the boundless goodness and love of God. Gratitude is a state of the heart that not many mortals have learned to live and walk in, yet it touches the very heart of the Almighty Creator.

It is what makes communicating to the great King easy. The high and exalted One only understands those whose speech is punctuated with thanksgiving. Those who can speak this kind of language well have the great King for their Friend. It is virtually impossible to truly glorify and honour God without a genuine heart full of thanksgiving. We all often dishonour Him by showing our ingratitude when things do not go as we planned. God does not cease to be God when we feel disappointed or let down. We insult the integrity of the great Lord when our attitudes of ingratitude try to portray Jehovah as incapable of changing our situations.

It is a truth that nobody can speak a language well when he or she does not understand it. It becomes noise in the ears of the natives of any land when their language is ‘butchered’ by strangers. Everyone who does not really understand the language of the natives of any land is a stranger and, therefore, cannot fully enjoy the privileges of that land. Without understanding the language of gratitude, we make ourselves strangers to God. It is a truth that if your tongue is not familiar with words of gratitude, you will not even be permitted into the gates of the ‘palace’. Whatever your grievance may be, your case will only be heard if you are permitted to meet with the King. How do you get a hearing with the King when you cannot speak the ‘language’ that permits you into His palace?


Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;

Give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:4-5

The ‘gatekeepers’ have been instructed to permit only those who carry the required permit to enter; without thanksgiving, you remain outside the palace gate. No wonder many people who are ungrateful barely have any peace in their hearts. The God of peace dwells close to those whose hearts are filled with appreciation for even the little things. When the God of peace is absent, inner turmoil rules our hearts.

God is good and loving, so we can trust that He can handle all our issues. He is faithful and can surely be trusted to give us a fair hearing, no matter the case. However, we cannot truly enjoy all these blessings without a heart of gratitude.

God has always been approached with gratitude, and this is the tradition of the kingdom of God. Your prayers will not even be heard when you have an ungrateful heart. Our hearts, hardened by sin, make us ‘wicked’ by nature. The prayer of such an individual is an abomination to God. It is natural for any father to feel indifferent about a son who has shown over and again gross ingratitude. Why, then, do we assume that God will gladly welcome our pleas when we have acted towards Him in a similar manner?

In his hour of distress and gloom, the psalmist remembered the days when he used to join the procession to the house of God. In the midst of discouragement over the turn of events in his life, David remembered that God is his hope. Most importantly, he remembered he and others gained the audience of the King in the years gone by, approaching Him with thanksgiving:


How I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

—Psalm 42:4

True gratitude is what makes the Father always pleased to welcome us into His courts. Which content father ever refuses audience with his cherished children? A heart of gratitude pushes away all the obstacles that stand between our heavenly Father and us. It makes every other issue secondary to the King, as far as our issues are concerned.

Gratitude knows the way around many difficulties. When we make Him our Friend, He will help us, even in our moments of confusion. He directs all those who endear themselves to Him, showing them the route back to the King’s palace, no matter how far they may have veered off.

Gratitude opens our hearts to experience God. It will put joy back on our faces and set us back in a festive mood. Gratitude drives away the influence of panic and brings us into the very presence of the merciful God.


Come with a Good Sacrifice

All who come to the ‘palace’ seeking the favour of the King should come with a gift. Your gift will hasten your access to His courts. This is how you hasten divine protocol. It is very wrong to come to God without anything to offer Him. He deserves a gift because He is the High and exalted One. The subjects of the King are expected to honour Him with gifts and offerings. These gifts do not necessarily have to be material things.

Gratitude is a gift acceptable to God any day if it is genuinely offered from our hearts. We may not have silver or gold, bulls or goats, but hearts full of gratitude are better than all the silver or gold a man can give to God in his or her lifetime. On countless occasions, God reminded the people of Israel that a sacrifice of thanksgiving was worth more than the sacrifice of hundreds of bulls.


"Hear, O my people, and I will speak O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God. I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the Creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice thanks offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."

—Psalm 50:7-15

We should learn to be thankful, even when we find ourselves in the valleys of life, knowing that He who was gracious to us yesterday can do the same today.

The best time to be thankful for God’s mercies and to sing songs of His goodness is when times are difficult; then it becomes a sacrifice. A gift becomes a sacrifice when it really costs us so much, and yet, we release it to God, knowing that He deserves even more than we can offer. It is easy to give God our gratitude when everything around us is okay. However, when the situation we find ourselves in is unpleasant, thanksgiving becomes a task; it then becomes a sacrifice.


Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.

—Psalm 107:22

Grateful Souls

There are people who have not gone to school, may not live in nice homes, eat good food or speak good grammar, yet they live as if they have no problems. That, I believe, is what is peculiar with many Africans. They are poor but happy. They are glad and thankful for the many small blessings they receive daily. Many have to fend for themselves at quite an early age, and despite all the challenges they face daily, they look forward to tomorrow with great hope. Amazingly, these are the ones who believe in God and trust God to open bigger doors and opportunities to them tomorrow. I believe, by having such optimistic hearts and thankful souls, they are, themselves, an example of those who live offering sacrificial thanks to God.

These ones are focused on what they have and are not too bothered about what they do not have. With such an attitude, they can see opportunities that lay ahead and do not focus on the regrets of what was missed yesterday. These ones lean on one another and have more meaningful relationships. They are more social in their outlook and have learnt that life is more than thinking about what they have or do not have. To many Africans, even funerals are turned into social gatherings, and this helps infuse some joy and happiness into the sadness of death and loss. In spite of all the challenges these souls face, their hearts have learnt to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

CHAPTER TWO TRUE GRATITUDE

If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”

—Meister Eckhart

Gratefulness Dispels Gloom

True gratitude is like a life spring: it erupts from deep down the heart and not from the mind. True gratitude is not just in what we say and do, but it is what our hearts communicate, no matter how subtle that is. It can never really be silenced or subdued; it is a forceful spring that affects everything you do. It is actually what makes the heart sing. It affects everything about a person: his or her speech, demeanour and actions.

True gratitude is also a manifestation of grace bestowed on men who appreciate little mercies. It is a grace that calms the spirit, allays our fears and assures us that it will be well. It brightens the eyes to see the blessing of today and the brightness and hope of a better tomorrow. It dispels gloom and brings sunlight and warmth into our hearts. True gratitude cannot be feigned or copied.

Spoken gratitude is not necessarily heartfelt; it could just be hypocritical. This is also why it is very unwise to trust a man just because of what he or she says. Men will try to sing your praises and say all kinds of good things about you in your presence, yet they will curse you the moment you turn your back. Jesus did not entrust himself to any man; He knows what is in man (John 2:23-25).

It is a truth that God weighs the hearts of men and not just the gravity of their words. He looks into our hearts to ascertain whether we truly mean what we say and do. About Israel, God says:


"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

—Matthew 15:8

Men honour other men with their lips, but their hearts are far from them. Do not make the mistake of reading the ‘lips’ of men. It is almost always not what they really mean.

The School of Gratitude and Honour

Life has a school where gratitude and honour for those who have helped us are woven into the very fibres of our ‘hearts’. These schools are not sited among the affluent and the very privileged, but they are abundant among the underprivileged and deprived.

Their lessons on gratitude and honour are taught daily to the poor and unrespected. These ones have known one form of sorrow or the other, and they now appreciate what it means to be privileged in even the smallest possible way. They do not take anything for granted, no matter how small. They have learnt to take life one day at a time and be grateful for God’s tender mercies. They appreciate life and its little blessings, and they have learnt to be thankful for everything, even in the midst of uncertainty and apparent gloom.

Grateful souls are thankful for life itself. They see it as a privilege to rise every morning and to see the sunset every evening. They know that they owe their very existence to the Almighty. They are thankful for health in the midst of endemic diseases and sound mind in the midst of many who are depressed and frustrated. Even when they do not know where tomorrow’s meal will come from, they eat the little they have today with much gladness.

They consider the little they have today as plenty and with much gratitude. They understand what it means to serve the Lord in their present estate, and they know the consequences of being ungrateful. They have learnt from history what happened to Israel after they became ungrateful in the midst of all God had graciously provided for them.

They remember what has been decreed for the wicked and the ungrateful:


Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

—Deut 28:46-48-NIV

They have graduated from the elementary school of pride and self-reliance to the class of those who lean on the dependable God. They have known one form of need or another (not necessarily financial), for none can be truly grateful unless they have met with and been taught by ‘the professor’ called need.

To be truly grateful is to learn how to be content with little or with plenty. When we are grateful in the season of lack, God will lift us up into plenty. A lot of people who are arrogant and snobbish have not really been tutored by the seasons of lack. They believe they are entitled to the best of everything and have no regard for the Lord whose mercies sustain all men.

It is a truth that many who have been lifted to the place of prominence and still maintain their humility have crossed the path of dire need before. Disadvantage and lack have a way of working humility into the hearts of the living. The apostle Paul was taught gratitude and humility through what he went through. He came to a place in his life’s journey when he confessed that life situations had taught him an invaluable lesson:


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.

—Philippians 4:12 -NIV

True gratitude is learning to be content with the little you have been blessed with. It is important to realize that the little you have is still a blessing. It all depends on what lenses you look at them through. The earlier you learn this, the better life will treat you. True appreciation for little mercies opens doors of progress to us.

Gratitude and humility make their abode in the ‘valleys’ of life, and most often you will only get to know them when life’s situations send you to their dwellings. The valleys of life may not be nice places to dwell in, but they do teach us priceless lessons in this life. They prepare us to handle adversity positively. They teach us how to cope with similar situations we will have to pass through on our way to our places of blessing and abundance. They build the confidence in us that we can handle whatever life throws at us (Philippians 4:13). They place into our hands an invisible certificate that qualifies us to occupy and influence places of our uplifting.

Many who find themselves in positions of blessing and prominence without possessing a certificate from the school of gratitude will be sent back to acquire one in the valley.

Reduced by Pride

Many people who order their lives rightly in all other ways are kept in poverty by their lack of gratitude.”

—Wallace Wattles

Many have lost their positions of elevation in life because they have regard for neither man nor God. They have failed time and again to genuinely say thank you to the Lord God and to their fellow men who have helped them in one way or another. They fail to appreciate the truth that a heart of gratitude endears them to God and man. They live in the arrogance and fullness of themselves and directly or indirectly ‘insult’ God and those He made in His image. They behave and speak as if they are gods and often forget that this earth is the abode of men like them: mere mortals.

Man must always remember that he is just a string of bones joined by cartilage and clothed with ‘conditioned and polished mud’. We have all been programmed to deteriorate and decay at a set time.


Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

—Psalm 90:12-NIV

The reality of our inescapable appointment with death should help us all to walk in humility. When we fail to appreciate this reality, then even the beasts of the field become of more value than us. When we lose sight of the fact that death awaits all of us, we walk in pride and baneful arrogance.

When gratitude is absent from our hearts, a haughty spirit tries to take over. We then see all things through our prideful eyes and, obviously, assume they have little value. Men who possess hearts of ingratitude often have haughty spirits and, consequently, haughty eyes. The scriptures categorically tell us how God sees all who have haughty eyes: He abhors them. He sets Himself against such people, virtually ‘fighting’ them Himself.


There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes…

—Proverbs 6:16-17-NIV

God lifts up the humble, but He opposes the proud. Pride eventually demotes; it drowns all who hang onto it. The Biblical example of King Nebuchadnezzar is a vivid story of how God sets Himself against the proud. It is a humbling story of how a great and mighty king was reduced to ‘nothing’ in order to teach him to be thankful and appreciate the God of heaven, who rules over the affairs of men (Daniel 4:30-37).

From Grace to Grass


What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.”


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