Are you grateful to be alive? Have you had a near-death experience or lost a friend or family member prematurely?
How we process these experiences influences whether we become grateful or ungrateful people.
A Grateful Story
During my senior year of high school, my family vacationed in Colorado to go skiing, tubing, and spend quality time together. I ran cross country that yea,r so I was in excellent cardiovascular shape. On the first day, my friend Dave and I skied aggressively. We had a blast.
That night I started to feel sick so I took some cold medicine and went to bed early. The next day I felt groggy but rushed to the slopes for another day of fun. Except after the first run, I felt I couldn’t move so I went back to the condo to rest. I refused dinner and an invitation to go tubing, choosing instead to stay on the couch. When my family and friends returned from tubing they found me blue from a lack of oxygen. I was gasping for life, drowning in my own fluids. My father, a cardiologist, rushed me to the local hospital where they quickly sent me via ambulance to Denver.
I survived but would have died or suffered brain injury within mere hours. Whenever I visit Colorado, I now live with the dangers of high altitude pulmonary edima syndrome (HAPES), a risk all high altitude climbers face.
I share that story not to get sympathy, but to say I know God spared my life for a reason. I think often about this experience (and others) which makes me grateful to be alive. I know God saved me for a reason. It gives me a sense of destiny, a critical element of calling described by Robert Clinton in his book The Making of a Leader.
Are you grateful for your life?
Many articles focus on aspects of our lives to be thankful for, like the one I did on Day 4 of the 90-Day Gratitude Challenge. Today, I’m not discussing things, people, or activities. I’m talking about just being alive.
“The glory of God is man fully alive.”St. Iraneus
Suicide rates keep increasing as people despair about the purpose of life. Many people wonder if there is more to life than waking, working, shopping, sleeping, and doing it again and again. Existential philosophy logically ends in despair.
Sometimes failure and dire circumstances lead us to question the purpose of life. I discussed this journey with Warren Peterson on episode 39 of the podcast ( https://maninthepew.com/success-suicide-significance-warren-peterson/).
Does the Bible give us a reason to be grateful and to live joyful lives?
You know the answer will be “yes,” but let’s explore a few reasons. One important caveat, these truths come alive only by God’s life-giving Spirit who dwells in all believers. If you don’t know Jesus, you may find yourself unconvinced.
#1: Your life is not your own
Jesus laid down his life so you could have eternal life. As a result God now lives in you. Gal. 2:20 says: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
#2: Jesus came to give you abundant life
In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” The fruit of the Holy Spirit displays in life-giving forms like love, joy, and peace.
But you may be suffering through a dark night of the soul where abundant life sounds like a myth or unattainable. That’s normal. Your life lies in the crosshairs of a cosmic war with the ungodly trinity of the flesh, the devil, and the world who want to steal and destroy your life (1 Pet. 5:8). John reminds us, “greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
As Paul instructed the Romans, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
#3: Life comes through giving it away
Jesus told us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” As Jesus modeled through his life of service, we find life by serving others. It’s a paradox worth testing. Rich Mullins, a gifted songwriter, and performer, often challenged his depressed friends to go find someone to serve. Inevitably they returned joyful and thankful for the life they have.
In Malachi 3, God challenged Israel to put him to the test (not something he normally does). He says watch and see what happens when you give generously. He promises blessings beyond measure. Give your life in service to others and you will receive more blessings than you can handle.
#4: Life flows from love
Have you ever observed a mother’s love for her children? It can be tender or fierce. She comes alive when her child’s life is on the line.
God’s love for you is so tender and fierce that he sent Jesus to rescue you from the grips of death and give you a new life. If you find yourself despairing your life, reflect upon the gospel with thanksgiving.
The song Great Are You, Lord by All Sons and Daughters reflects this joy. Notice the first stanza, “You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness.”
In your journal, write down ten reasons you’re glad to be alive. Share these with someone you love.
Father, I thank you for the life you give. Every breath I breathe is a gift from you. I praise you for making me just the way I am. When life gets hard, I ask you to show me reasons to be grateful. I do long for heaven when there will be no more suffering, but until then show me your purposes. Keep teaching me to be grateful. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
[…] been spared from accidental death. Some of those stories linger with us. I shared one of mine on Day 17 of this challenge. On your Top 10 list write down one time you remember where God spared your life in a miraculous or […]