Humility and Gratitude: The Perfect Pair

From our team: If Heidi Jo’s story below is like yours and you’re also wanting to pursue a humble, grateful heart before the Lord, we have a resource to help. Sign up today for the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge, and every day in the month of November, you’ll receive an email devotional to help you in your journey to choosing thanksgiving. We hope you’ll join us; signup closes October 31!

Serious health issues. Difficult relationships. Motherhood. God has used all of these things to slowly strip me of pride. As I’ve walked through these circumstances, I have realized my own insufficiency. My own strength? It is woefully limited. When I try to withstand the storms of life on my own, I’m quickly knocked down. When I strive to persevere through daily life on my own, I’m often empty, frustrated, and confused. My own wisdom results in much of the same.

But there in the knocked-down, empty, confused, and frustrated moments, I have discovered the essentials of a heart posture to find truth and power—and I am grateful.

Why I’m Grateful

My gratitude to God for all He is and all He does deepens each time I choose humility—placing myself under Christ’s authority, willingly and gladly submitting to Christ. It is in that surrendered position that I realize that even though my own strength and wisdom isn’t ever enough, His always is. And He offers them to me! That is a mind-blow if there ever was one, so how could I be anything but wholly thankful?

No matter what comes to reveal pride and self-sufficiency in my life, if I’m willing to acknowledge those things in light of who God is and humbly come to Him, He will both forgive and fill me so that I can respond in grateful obedience through His power. Colossians 1:9–14 illustrates this clearly:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Here Paul has just finished praising the Colossians for the love and fruit they are displaying through their faith in God. Now he explains that because of that, he and his son in the faith, Timothy, are praying for them to:

  • Be filled with God’s knowledge so that they might walk in a worthy, God-pleasing way.
  • Bear fruit as they grow in that knowledge.
  • Be strengthened in endurance and patience.
  • Have thankful hearts!

And do you see that reminder of our necessary humble position and posture there in the last few verses of this passage? Because the Father has allowed us to share in the saints’ inheritance, because He has rescued us from sin and hell and instead placed us in His own Son’s kingdom, we should be joyfully thankful!

Position and Posture at Work

I could give any number of examples of gratitude when God has helped me to humble myself and quiet my own striving. The clearest and most recent example of learning this lesson would be the start of the school year for my third, fifth, seventh, and ninth grade children.

Because of the structure of our local school district, each child is in a separate school this year. The logistics—even just the school-related email—could make me want to curl up in a ball and cry just about any day of the week. But I was prepared for that! I’ve been a mom long enough to know I needed to come to this school year prayed up, focused on, and fueled by God’s Word, or I would indeed be that crying ball.

Even with that focus, of course there are moments when my flesh gets in the way. But as I continue to seek to remain in that humble position and posture, asking God to give me His wisdom, He has been gracious to give it . . . like when my oldest daughter was weary and stressed with a pile of homework.

It was getting late, and she still had a little more to do. I was tired; she was tired. She was starting to panic and asked me to pack her lunch for the next day. Usually packing lunches is a kid responsibility in our home, but I wanted to help her and let her finish homework, so I said “yes.”

She was working in the room next to the kitchen, and as I called out my questions about what she’d like for lunch, I could hear the tone of her voice relax. By the time her lunch was packed, she was finished with her homework and came into the kitchen with a giant sigh of relief and said, “Thanks, Mom.”

I am not ashamed to tell you that my gut reaction was to say “no” to that lunch-packing request. I was tired, too, and though I love to cook, for some reason, I loathe packing lunches. But because I have been pursuing God’s wisdom, He gave me that “yes.” The result? A daughter grateful for her mom’s help and a mom grateful for her Father’s help.

Are you in that position and posture of humility? Have you seen the futility of your own striving and know you need God’s wisdom and strength? Seek it out, and ask Him for it. He will give you strength to humble yourself and choose thanks. As I am learning, when humility and gratitude combine, God will show Himself in and through you.

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About the Author

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo desires to know and live God’s Word, then teach and challenge other women to do the same. Heidi and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children and she leads women's ministries at her church.

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