Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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It’s Good to Be Grateful

Dannah Gresh: Think of your life like a garden. Mary Kassian says there’s something important you should be growing.

Mary Kassian: If you want to walk as a Christian, you need to cultivate the discipline of gratitude into your life. You need to understand that, and so you need to be careful to grow grateful.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for November 11, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Did you wake up grateful or grumbly today? I have a confession to make. I totally woke up grumbly right from the get-go. I felt just down and negative about everything. And one of the things I felt a little disappointed about was the fact that our dear beloved Nancy is not with us in the studio today. I so love it when she’s here with us, and I know that you do, too.

But I realized that I could choose to be grumbly about that, or I could be grateful and super excited about who is with us in the studio today, and she’s no stranger to the Revive Our Hearts’ world. She’s a frequent guest on the program as well as a True Woman and Revive conference speaker.

She’s been with us from the beginning of the True Woman Movement and is the author, along with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, of True Woman 101 and many other Bible studies. She’s an award-winning author, international speaker, but you probably just know her as Mary.

Mary Kassian, welcome to the studio again.

Mary: Dannah, I am grateful. I actually woke up grateful because I thought, I get to hang out with Dannah today. So I’m really grateful for that.

Dannah: You win a lot of points.

Now, the thing is, you’re going to help us whether we have our grateful on or not. If there’s somebody listening who’s been defaulting to grumbling, they’re in the right place today. Right?

Mary: They are absolutely in the right place! We’re going to be talking about gratitude and how to have the Lord stir up gratitude in our hearts, and why it is so important for us to work on this important, important discipline.

Dannah: Right now especially. And speaking of that, I’ve watched Nancy walk through a very difficult season. I call it a grief within a grief. As we have been walking through a pandemic, she and Robert have been walking through a cancer diagnosis on top of it.

Mary: Yes.

Dannah: But, Mary, every day she shows up, and she has a grateful, positive heart about her. In fact, just recently we were recording with Karen Ellis, and this happened.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We want to open our Bibles today and . . . (sound of phone buzzing) I’m sorry, can you just pause? This is a hospital thing. Just one sec.

Hi, this is Nancy.

Woman: I’m calling from Radiology. I was looking for Robert.

Nancy: This is his wife, and I’m taking his calls for him. Can I help you?

Woman: Sure. Yes. I just wanted . . .

Dannah: I think that day Robert and Nancy were trying to set up another appointment for yet another test. Robert was exhausted from a procedure the day before, so Nancy was cheerfully doing double duty.

Nancy: Okay. Terrific. Does he just need to be there at 10:30? Just arrive at 10:30? Is that okay?

Woman: Yes, all right.

Nancy: Okay. Thanks, Jessica.

Woman: Yes. Thank you, bye-bye.

Mary: That’s just so amazing that Nancy can show up with a grateful spirit with all that happening. We don’t see what’s happening behind the scenes, and she’s carrying a heavy burden.

And yet, I know that as I’ve watched her, and as you have, Dannah, as a group of friends, we’ve watched her behind the scenes, and we see her walk the talk. We see her live out the joy of the Lord even in the most difficult circumstances. I’m just so grateful for her example, and I’m so grateful that she walks out what she preaches day by day by day. And it’s not easy.

Dannah: No, it’s not easy. One of the things that I marvel most at, Mary, is that many days on Facebook or Instagram you see her “gratitude room.” They’ve taken their sunroom and filled it with Post-It notes. Every day, at the end of fighting cancer and ministering on top of it, they’re writing Post-It notes of gratitude. Their room is just cluttered with them.

That’s an inspiration to me. I’m hoping that today you can help me get in a mindset where that would be my default.

Mary: We all need to work on that to be our default because it is a discipline. Gratitude is a discipline. It’s something that we need to work at. It doesn’t come naturally.

Dannah: Why does it matter so much right now in 2020?

Mary: Well, 2020 has hit us with a lot of things that we certainly didn’t expect, and a lot of things that we could become very negative about. And we’ve seen that. We turn on the news, and there are scary predictions, and there are people dying, and there are so many burdens. There are things happening with health and with wellness and then with the election . . . That’s always so very difficult to walk through the political division that’s going on, and then the . . .

Dannah: The weather patterns are crazy!

Mary: The weather patterns, the riots on the streets . . . all sorts of things that really are discouraging.

Dannah: Yes . . . firenado, and then there’s a storm pattern called (I don’t know how you pronounce it) derecho—these inland hurricanes. This is some sort of crazy. I’m waiting for Sharknado. I’ve never seen it on TV, but people watch these shark . . . It’s just been crazy.

But you say in your wonderful book, Growing Grateful: Live Happy, Peaceful and Contented . . . It’s 101 meditations. I’m so excited about this. I have it on my nightstand. It is working, Mary. Most mornings I wake up much more positive because I’ve ended my day with that book.

But there’s some phenomenal research in there that I think makes me believe—my faith aside—that just growing grateful is going to help me through the rest of this crazy year.

Mary: Well, the Lord has given us principles to live by, and gratitude is one of them. As Christians, we can draw gratitude from a different source. But I think just in a general sense, even people who are not Christians seem to benefit by bringing gratitude into their lives.

Dannah: Give us a story or an example of how you’ve seen that.

Mary: Well, research actually proves that it is really good to be grateful. Gratitude makes us more hopeful, more energetic, more positive, less anxious and less envious and less depressed. We have more will power, more compassion, more empathy, more integrity.

That’s why there’s such a big push in society for people to just be grateful. I’m sure you’ve seen the gratitude journals . . . all sorts of those pushes, “We need to just have three things that we’re grateful for today.”

Dannah: Yes. Are those secular pushes—for lack of a better word—are those secular pushes enough? Like, does that get us in the mindset that we need? I kind of feel like I want to jump on that bandwagon. It seems like a good thing.

Mary: Well, it is a good thing, but it isn’t the type of gratitude that the Lord wants of us. Being grateful for a sunset or being grateful for something good that happened to me, that’s good. But the question is, Who are we being grateful to?

We’re being told by secular society, “Be grateful. Journal three things a day that we’re grateful for.” And gratitude has actually become a big business. There are tee-shirts and bumper stickers and mugs and cups and posters—all sorts of things. Dannah, I even saw when I was browsing on Amazon, a pair of gratitude socks.

Maybe that’s what you need! Maybe you need a pair of gratitude socks. (laughter)

Dannah: I need to sleep in my gratitude socks!

Mary: Yes, and then you’d wake up happy, maybe. (laughter)

Dannah: Oh yes. I think that these are good things, but what does God’s Word say where gratitude gets its power?

Mary: Well, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in everything for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So for the Christian, gratitude is much more than a self-help or a feel-good strategy. It’s much more than gratitude socks. It has a far different texture to it. Christian gratitude is different from what we see in the shopping malls. It is a Spirit-filled discipline. It’s a biblical lifestyle. And it is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.

There’s something about our connection to Christ Jesus and our connection, our relationship, to God that takes gratitude to a whole different level. It takes gratitude to a deeper level than what we see in the shopping malls.

Nancy actually wrote a book on gratitude. This is a good Nancy quote for you since she can’t be here today with us. She said, “Gratitude is a lifestyle—a hard-fought, grace-infused, biblical lifestyle.” And that’s a great quote. I wrote it down. It’s just such an amazing quote.

Dannah: I needed that quote today! I like that it says, “It’s a hard-fought, grace-infused, biblical lifestyle.”

I don’t usually wake up grumpy. It’s unusual for me to do that, but there are those days. And on those days, I need to know that it’s normal, that I’m not the only one that has to do it. But sometimes we have to fight for that. We have to fight for the will of God.

Mary: We have to fight for it. Gratitude is something we need to fight for. And it’s a biblical lifestyle. It’s not something that we just do every once in a while. It’s something that needs to be infused into our spirits on an ongoing basis.

I think people that don’t know Jesus miss out on the fullness of gratitude because they have hearts, perhaps, that are grateful for a sunset or grateful for their gratitude socks, but if their hearts are grateful but not grateful to God, they’re not being grateful in the right sort of way.

For a Christian, that’s where gratitude is markedly different. Gratitude is always linked to God, who is the Giver of all good things. James 1:17 says, 

Every generous act, every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights.

So when I see that sunset, when I see the autumn leaves changing, when I’m able to enjoy something, my heart ought to recognize that that is from God, that is a gift from God. And even when I’m going through hard times, as Nancy is, we can recognize that in those times, also, God is with us. And that is a gift from God.

Dannah: That verse, James 1:17, came really alive in my life at a time when my husband had been in a life-threatening accident. I was really trying to be grateful. I had two children at home. I had a puppy I was potty-training. And now I had a husband who was in a hospital bed in my dining room. Those are not easy days to be grateful.

But I was writing, “Lord, I thank You that the doctors were able to repair his body. Lord, I’m thankful that the insurance is covering this.” But I still was grumbly.

And my mentor said, “Dannah, how many times did you say, ‘I’m thankful that You enabled the doctor? I’m thankful that You have provided insurance for me?’ How many times have you attached that gratefulness and that thanks to the Father of Lights? Every perfect gift is from Him.”

And I remember to this day . . . I took my journal out. I wrote probably five pages, but this time I was directing all my gratitude to God. It was a pivotal point in this trial for me, in terms of feeling the hope and the perspective that, “We’re going to make it through this. God has something in this for me, and He is in this with me.”

I think you’re making a really valid point here. I’ve experienced that firsthand.

Mary: It is true that our gratitude is markedly different when we give gratitude to the Giver of all good things—which is the Lord. So Christians have gratitude that is far richer and deeper.

And I know, Dannah, I’ve seen this in my own life. I’ve seen it in your life. I’ve seen it in Nancy’s life. But one of the greatest examples that I have is my parents.

They are ninety-five and ninety-three years old now. They have health issues. They’re facing end-of-life issues. Yet when I call them up every day, the voice on the other end is cheerful. It is, “Oh, well, we’re so thankful for what the Lord is doing.” Even if they’re having a very difficult day, they will say, “We’re so grateful that God is getting us through this difficult day.” There’s gratitude to the Lord even in the most difficult circumstances.

Dannah: I feel like we are living that in 2020. I feel like, in many ways, we’re living the truth of Scripture—or we have the opportunity to choose to live the truth of Scripture—in 2020 in a way that’s bringing it alive. It’s not theoretical. This is the hot pavement of life—choosing to live in the pages of truth when times are difficult.

Mary: I can see a difference in people who are believers, who are actually walking in that hard-fought lifestyle of gratitude.

The Bible warns us about unbelief. It warns us about a lack of gratitude. In Romans chapter 1, verse 21, it says, “They knew God, but they didn’t glorify him as God, or show gratitude” (CSB).

Dannah: Ouch!

Mary: Ouch—yes!

Dannah: I have to clarify—you’re linking lack of gratitude to unbelief.

Mary: Absolutely. Romans does, Romans 1:21 says that gratitude is linked to unbelief. There are consequences to it because the verse continues. It says, “Their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.”

So there are positive consequences to cultivating an attitude of gratitude, but there are negative consequences to not cultivating this attitude. If we are ungrateful, it carries terrible consequences. There’s a lot of harm that goes on in our lives. Our thinking becomes clouded. Our minds become darkened.

And you know that yourself. I’ve seen that. We’ve all seen that where we wake up and we are grumbly, and because we’re grumbly, we’re not grateful for the good things that God has given us. It just tends to increase and snowball and get worse until we’re just snapping everyone’s heads off and just becoming a very unpleasant person to be around.

Dannah: You’ve never done that, have you, Mary?

Mary: Well, I must confess that I have. I have. (laughter)

But ingratitude produces this whole crop of ugly, destructive weeds that grows up in our lives, like envy and anxiety and depression and apathy and just all-out nastiness . . . and we have less faith. Ingratitude is linked to unbelief.

Dannah: Okay. So you’re warning us that a lack of gratitude is unbelief. That motivates me to get serious about this. So what’s your charge to us?

Mary: I think, first of all, we need to understand that gratitude, growing grateful, is a command. “Give thanks in everything for this is the will of God.” (1 Thess. 5:18 CSB)

So many people say, “Oh, I’m looking for the will of God. What’s the will of God in my life?” What is the will of God? Well, here it is in black and white: “Give thanks in everything for this is the will of God.”

So God’s will for you, what God wants of you is to give thanks in everything in Christ Jesus.

It’s a command. This is not an option. This is part of a Christian discipline that is part of the Christian walk. If you want to walk as a Christian, you need to cultivate the discipline of gratitude into your life. You need to understand that, and you need to be careful to grow grateful.

David said, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” And it is. As you taste that, as you begin to turn your attitude toward the Lord and give Him thanks—even in difficult situations—you will find that it changes you. It turns you into a happier, more cheerful, and—most importantly—more godly person.

Dannah: You know, Mary, in your book, Growing Grateful, you give the most beautiful story of two women that really show us the contrast of being grateful or being grumbly.

Mary: I used to work in a rehabilitation center, and I had two patients next door to each other.

There was one woman who had a below-knee amputation, and she was grumpy. Oh, my goodness, she was grumpy! It was difficult to go into her room. You would get your head snapped off. The curtains were drawn. It was dark. No one wanted to go in there because she was so ungrateful and abusive, really.

And then next door to her was a woman who had far more physical issues. She was disabled in so many different ways. And her life, from a physical point of view, was much more bleak than the other woman.

And yet, this woman had an attitude of gratitude. I do believe that she knew the Lord because she was so cheerful. It just exuded out of her. Even though she was struggling physically, her curtains were open. The visitors loved to stream in there, and people loved to stream in there. We loved to go give her care because she was just so grateful. “Thank you so much,” she would say. “Thank you so much, Dear.” The gratitude changed her.

I think that gratitude as an attitude will set us up for where we’re going to end up in life. It was such a good lesson for me to see that marked contrast, because it reminded me that I could choose to walk into this room or walk into that room, in terms of the attitude that I am going to have.

I want to be the woman who is grateful. I want to be the woman who gives thanks to the Lord in all circumstances.

Dannah: Well, as I hear that story, I think, Not only did the gratitude change her, it changed the people around her. Right?

Mary: It does.

Dannah: You were drawn to her. I want to be that kind of woman. I want people to be drawn to me, and gratitude is a big part of that.

You’re saying that being grateful really is one of the significant ways that we line up our living with our doctrine.

Mary: It is one of the significant ways. Not only does gratitude draw people to us, ultimately, what it does is it draws people to Jesus. It draws people to Christ Jesus and to the Father from whom all blessings flow.

That’s why the Bible repeatedly instructs us to “be grateful in all things, because this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.”

Dannah: Mary, I would like to say that this book is a coffee-table book, but it’s so much richer theologically and full of truth. Would you just read a little piece to give us a taste of how beautiful it is?

Mary: The second day of meditations talks about growing grateful, and it focuses on Isaiah, chapter 61, verse 11: 

As the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as the garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. (ESV)

In my part of the world, winter lingers until the end of March, or even longer. By then, I’m tired of the cold, white, lifeless landscape. I yearn for the prairie crocus. This member of the buttercup family is the first flower to burst through the snow and defy the monochromatic scenery. With vivid purple, yellow, and green, it heralds the coming of spring.

I’m always elated to spot the first crocus because I know that the daffodils and tulips will rush to follow its lead. The trees will soon blush green. Lilacs, apple blossoms, and lilies of the valley will perfume the air. All plants—sweet pea seeds and vegetable seedlings—in my garden fill the mass of clay pots on my deck with herbs, bed geraniums, petunias, and begonias and the raised planters circling my patio.

Over the course of the summer, I’ll watch the blooms multiply and spill over the stone walls. I’ll take fragrant herbs for my recipes, harvest tasty fruit and vegetables for my table, and delight in the beauty and the wonder of it all.

Scripture indicates that the Lord causes goodness and gratitude to sprout up in our hearts like shoots in a garden. Gratitude is just as important to Him as goodness. The Gardener of our hearts doesn’t only want us to grow more holy, He also wants us to grow more grateful. He longs to see gratefulness spring up in your life even more than Northerners long for the first flowers of spring.

Is your heart’s garden blooming with gratitude? Would you characterize it as being in a state of winter or spring? What do you think you can do today to grow more grateful?

Dannah: Mary has written about how to download a default that lines up with the doctrine that we read in the Scriptures in terms of being grateful in a book called Growing Grateful: Live Happy, Peaceful and Contented.

We’d love to send you a copy of this, Mary Kassian’s newest book, when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’re helping women all across the globe grow in gratitude, which is just as you heard Mary say, the will of God.

You can make a donation by calling us at 1–800–569–5959, or, if you’d prefer, you can make that gift at ReviveOurHearts.com. Be sure to ask for Mary’s new book, Growing Grateful. It’s our gift to you when you make a donation of any amount.

Mary, thank you so much for being with us today. I feel like I’m growing grateful. Thank you.

Mary: You are welcome. It’s so fun to be here with you, Dannah. Tomorrow we’re going to talk more about how to be grateful and how a Christian has so many different reasons to be grateful. But the question I want to leave with the listeners today as they ponder this whole topic is this: Are you a grateful woman? What do your levels of peace and contentment and happiness indicate about your need to grow more grateful?

We’re going to pick up on that tomorrow, Dannah, and have a couple more days of talking about how to become more grateful.

Dannah: I’m grateful for that opportunity, Mary. We’ll look forward to that tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you grow grateful. Our program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Guest

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian is an award-winning author, an internationally-renowned speaker, and a frequent guest on Revive Our Hearts. She has written more than a dozen books and Bible studies, including Conversation Peace, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, and The Right Kind of Strong.

Mary and her husband, Brent, have three sons and six grandchildren and live in Alberta, Canada. The Kassians enjoy biking, hiking, snorkeling, music, board games, mountains, campfires, and their family’s black lab, General Beau.

About the Speaker

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh is the best-selling author, speaker, and founder of True Girl (formerly Secret Keeper Girl), America's most popular Christian tween event. She has authored over 20 books that have …

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