During this season of thanksgiving, the key word for many of us is gratitude and when I contemplate this word, my mind is brought back to a number of instances of my life where I was saved from some very precarious situations. It was February of 2009, ignoring the weather forecast which had indicated that we were in for a spate of bad weather, that bad weather being snow, I picked up a friend and headed to a local Sports Bar to watch The Super Bowl. As the hours passed, precipitation progressed from flurries of snow to an all out storm. As the snow settled on the cold ground, I was positive that the school that I taught at would be closed the following day. That was my cue to relax into the evening. The volume of snow that was settling on the ground continued to grow and my friend and I eventually decided that we should leave and head home. I drove my friend back to their University campus and then headed home myself. As I drove towards the end of the narrow, isolated country road that would lead me to the main road I needed to drive along, to get to my house, my car did what I was hoping it wouldn’t. Skidded, swayed before making it clear that I was not going to go any further. I put my car in neutral and pulled up my hand brake. I was on a dark, lonely road, approximately 20miles from home and in the middle of a growing blizzard. My foolhardiness had resulted in a predicament that could have been easily avoided had I taken heed of the weather warning received earlier on that day. I decided to once again try to drive out of this snowy stretch of road, putting my car in gear, I found my biting point before lowering my hand brake and slowly adding pressure to my gas pedal. My car skidded, swayed and again, wouldn’t progress any further. I pulled up my hand brake and put my car back in neutral before taking my foot off the brake and putting my hazard lights on. I couldn’t drive myself out of this, I didn’t know what to do. I was angry at myself. I stopped and prayed for a solution. Might I add that at this point, that it was approximately 2am. I was living in England at the time so the different time zone meant a night watching The Superbowl was a very late night indeed. What must have been minutes passed when I saw a set of headlights in my rear-view mirror. The driver pulled up alongside my car, lowered his window and asked if I was okay. I told him I was stuck. He got out of his car and gave me some instructions - I was to release my hand brake, put my car in gear and gently put some pressure on the gas pedal - all the while, both the gentlemen and his friend were going to push my car. Within seconds, my car was moving out of the snowy spot that impeded my progress and up past the incline that led onto the main road I needed to get back home. To this day I can recall exactly what that man looked like, how he calmly and confidently gave me clear instructions that absolutely remedied the situation within seconds. To this day, I’m grateful that The Lord sent a helper to aid me in a very precarious situation. On another occasion, as I was trying to follow the directions given to me to help me find a riding school where I had a riding lesson booked, I soon found myself on a narrow “road” which really wasn’t a road at all. Driving deeper into what was becoming increasingly thick undergrowth, there was nowhere to turn around, making backing out my only option. At this point, that option was near impossible, at least for me. Another moment of putting the car in neutral, pulling up the hand brake and sitting, praying for a solution. Within minutes, a cyclist appeared. He steadied his bike against a tree, hopped into my car, and backed it out before reassuring me that I wasn’t the first nor would I be the last to miss the turn I should have taken a couple of miles back. Once again, gratitude towards a helper that once again, assisted me in maneuvering out of a very precarious situation. Gratitude. We all have moments where we feel overcome with gratitude as we consider what would have been the gravity of a predicament had some form of savior not swooped in to save us from ourselves or somebody or something else. I have so many people that have walked me off the ledge over the course of various episodes of my life and I remember each and every one of them. As I think of these individuals who aided my rescue, my mind diverts to thoughts of The Ultimate Savior, The Champion of The Ultimate Rescue Story, The Death Conquering Hero of The Greatest Redemption Story of All Time. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, saving, rescuing and redeeming us. Not just to grant us freedom during this life, but to secure our salvation for the eternal life that supersedes and succeeds this present one. That type of rescue should ensure we maintain a posture of gratitude over every aspect of our lives. We have a future, we have a hope, we have a salvation that is secure and we have an eternity with The One that made it so. We can show gratitude towards the things of this life that seemingly have worth enough to make us happy, but this isn’t home, so why obsess over the seemingly “valuable” treasures that we have here when in the grand scheme of things, the length of time that we spend here, in this life, is minute and practically negligible in comparison to the eternity that lies ahead of us. Whatever we’re living for, and whatever we concentrate our gratitude towards, we need to be sure it’s centered both on and around Him. Granted, many of us have weathered many storms and encountered incidents that we would rather not spend too much time reflecting on, but even in the midst of our troubles and trials we must focus on our Redeemer. The Word says “The righteous person faces many troubles, but The Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Psalms 34:19 NLT. So, even in the midst of our troubles, we can be grateful for the promise that The Lord will come to our rescue. Gratitude is a practice, a spiritual practice where we notice and appreciate God’s divinity in our day to day. Not just in the miraculous moments, but also in what we could consider to be the mundane. It’s a concentrated effort and there are techniques that can be adopted to establish and ensure the act of gratitude penetrates every situation. So how do we make the practice of gratitude a daily habit? First of all, we must not follow the order of the world that encourages us to focus on the negative aspects of life but develop a keen and sensitive eye to recognize and see the good. It exists in more places than we give it credit for. If we’re really struggling to find reasons to show gratitude towards what The Lord is doing, we can at the very least express gratitude for the things The Lord has done. Take a shepherd’s staff for example. A shepherd’s staff during biblical times was not only used to manage and catch sheep as well as to ward off and defend oneself against predators in the event of an attack, but it also consisted of an intricate account of God’s goodness. Every time the shepherd had the opportunity to bear witness to the goodness of God, they would carve a mark on their staff. I can imagine that if at any time their faith ever showed signs of wavering, they would look to the record they had faithfully kept and stand on the truth and the promise of The Lord’s goodness and consequently garner strength as each score encouraged them not to forget. When times get tough, it’s easier to forget about God’s goodness, but these are the times when leaning in and pressing into the goodness of our Father become all the more important. Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s. will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Transitioning into gratitude during troublesome times is not necessarily the most seamless of acts but there is such goodness that is born as a fruit of the testing of our faith “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1: 2-4 NLT). There is a profound level of spiritual conditioning when we are able to execute an attitude of gratitude during trials as opposed to just during moments of triumph. In addition, medical studies have confirmed the link between gratitude and mental health. Across a series of studies conducted by Kerr, O’Donovan & Pepping, 2014, Toepfer et al., 2012 and Seligman et al., 2005, researchers concluded that when test subjects wrote down three good things, wrote letters of gratitude or kept a gratitude journal, they all demonstrated improvements in levels of anxiety, depression and overall satisfaction across their lives in general. Medical science is illustrating what we already have recorded in scripture from ancient times. In addition, to increase the effectiveness of the strength of our gratitude, we must lay aside every weight … “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT). The weight in this case that must be diffused is one of the greatest saboteurs of gratitude - comparison. The Psalmist in Psalm 16 writes “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.” (Psalm 16:5-6). To be satisfied with our portion can help us maintain an attitude of gratitude rather than maintaining a solemn posture over what we may consider to be a bad lot in this life. Executing an attitude of gratitude enables us to find a reason to give thanks across every situation. The world tells us that happiness and being thankful can be defined by getting what you want but The Bible defines gratitude as being grateful for what you get.