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Sunday ended my thirty days of gratitude. Some of those thirty days felt forced and stale. Like the distracted words we often rattle off around a table while hungrily eyeing a golden turkey.

But on other days gratitude was like being hit with the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies. Something rumbled deep within me and longing rushed in as I began to think of reasons to be thankful.

The strange thing was that this type of mouth-watering gratitude came on unexpected days.

Like the morning after I’d spent an evening with a family in complete, collective meltdown. Trying to mediate their family fight was futile. They backstabbed, lied and disrespected one another for over an hour.

I awoke the next day with a splitting headache, completely emotionally empty.

When you’re empty, you eat. As I dug into Day 29 like a starving woman, I found a feast of gratitude awaiting me. Things about the situation in which I could see God’s graciousness poured out from my heart. In the presence of the enemy Satan, a banquet had been prepared. A sheet was pulled back from the table to reveal a myriad of dishes displaying God’s infinite goodness and power. I ate with relish.

Truth, garnished with a heart responding with gratitude, is an amazing banquet. Without gratitude, we eat the incredible truths of the Bible with the same zeal we down stale bread and water. Truth without thankfulness becomes disconnected from the relationship with the Truth-Giver. A set of stale laws and interdicts.

Gratitude is the act of absorbing what God has given and promised in the context of our relationship with Him. It’s the difference between seeing the meal before us as a collection of asparagus and broccoli – nutritional but not especially tasty – and seeing our favorite meal lovingly arranged for us.