Defiant Gratitude

Carissa Defiance

"Gratitude is liberation." –N.D. Wilson

Last week I visited my former university––a place heavy with memories.

I assumed I’d be long-forgotten, swept away by the tides of time. But rather than ruthlessly forgetting, the people I knew welcomed me with open arms and soul-stirring encouragement.

Ghosts of past friendships and my collegiate identity tugged at me, and I wrestled with longing for those former anchors of my heart.

Humbled by God, I recognized my limited perspective and prayed for gratitude in the bittersweet.

God, thank You for the time spent here, the lessons learned, and the friendships developed. Thank you for the brilliance of the sun, the splendor of vibrant colors, and the joy of shared laughter.

Thankfulness opens my eyes anew to the wonder of God’s orchestration in my life––and the myriad of blessings He’s given along the way.


But in the grit of everyday living, gratitude is difficult.

It takes resolve to place my faith in God‘s perfect providence, and to trust the path of pain will lead to the fruit of peace.

Instead of caving to the pressures of my melancholy flesh, I rejoice that God hears, sees, and delivers.

Instead of allowing a labyrinth of feelings and thoughts to frame my reality, I remind myself that the truth has set me free to live for Christ.

Instead of allowing the pain of loss to hinder me from praising God, I choose to see beauty in every facet of this season––the complexity of a night sky as well as the instrument of suffering in a gracious God’s hands.

In defiance of my sin nature, in defiance of circumstances that threaten to drag me into despondency, I am thankful.

Joy and gratitude really are the keys to liberation. When I struggle to see the freedom that Christ has accomplished for me, I turn weary eyes to the source of all gratitude, the gospel.

Longing for the past can only rob me of present joy. Only when I reflect on God’s previous faithfulness can I see my past, present, and future in the light of liberating truth.

Thankfulness is so intrinsic to the Christian life that it is described as a facet of God’s will.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thess. 5:16–18

I was never meant to be fulfilled by another human or material blessings, but both are means to give the gracious Giver great thanks. He is a God of abundance, and each speck of the universe points to His worthiness to be adored.

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Ps. 16:11

Our thankfulness cannot depend on the shifting sands of our circumstances, but must be fixed on the Rock––our Redeemer. It is that defiant faith, defiant gratitude that will anchor us when all around us gives way.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
   for his steadfast love endures forever!"
1 Chronicles 16:34

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