Are you running as hard and fast as you can, pressing forward with every ounce of energy you can muster? It’s easy to be consumed with never-ending duties of the day, as we run hard, giving our best to God, family, home, and work.
I’ve had seasons when I’ve run to win, charging hard for the finish line. And I’ve also had many days when I’ve plodded forward, just hoping to reach the goal ahead. These are the days when burnout beckons as the enemy of my soul taunts, “You haven’t done enough.”
Recently, I felt soul weary after an extended season of hard work. In a year of days with a to-do list I could never finish, I often fell into bed physically tired and mentally drained. Exciting opportunities brought an increased workload. Each day, I tackled my work with a desire to work well, rely on Christ, and entrust the results to God. Still, when crossing the finish line, I was exhausted.
One morning, I sat in the worn, green chair in my family room. With my open Bible on my lap I talked with God. “Lord, I’ve never been this kind of tired before. Will you show me how to sustain the pace? Will you refresh my soul? I need to make time rest, but I feel the pressure to keep running.”
As I prayed, God reminded me that gratitude can infuse strength and energy into my day, renewing my perspective that I am not alone in the work. I read the words of the Psalmist, “I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart. . . I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength” (Psalm 138: 1-3 NLT).
In reality, thankfulness is an orientation of the heart rather than an activity or event. Thankfulness seeps out of our very pores when we have our eyes open to the goodness of God.
Thankfulness opens the door to God’s presence as we receive his strength with grateful hearts.
“What is one practical way I can practice gratitude in my work?” I continued my conversation with God. This is the compelling question my soul asked, for understanding the power of gratitude is good, but the choosing of it in the moment is where the blessing is received.
“Genesis 1,” the Holy Spirit slipped these two simple words into my thoughts. Flipping to the first page of the Bible, I followed the prompting of the Spirit. Back to the first things, the opening story of God’s wondrous work of creation. Back to the basics of God’s rhythm of work and rest. I noticed anew how God did specific work each day. These words seemed to lift off the page and into my heart: “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31 NLT).
With fresh eyes, I saw an intentional beginning and a purposeful end to the work of each day as well as rest at the end of the week. Considering the pressure of my to-do list that was never finished, I wondered how often do I neglect to rest in my rhythm of work? How many days do I discount the value of the work God enables me to complete? In that moment, God showed me that my focus needed to shift from worrying about the unfinished tasks to thanking God for each good work completed.
In the quiet of the morning, God gave me this insight on running well, working in faith, and sustaining the pace:
Name the small wins, the tasks accomplished, and the blessings received. Call them good, as you let go of the pressure of finishing the race. Choose to be grateful for all that I have empowered you to accomplish today. Enjoy the work as you set aside the draining habit of worrying about tomorrow. Let your heart rest in the grace of gratitude today.
This one holy habit to end the day, I’m learning mark the borders between work and rest with a grateful heart. Thanking God for the good work of the day is one simple way to receive the strengthening power of gratitude.
Author of Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your Life, Ginger Harrington is an award-winning author, inspiring speaker, and devoted mom of three. Connect with Ginger at GingerHarrington.com.