Turning Back Darkness with Gratitude

Dear Friends:

At Advance Memphis—and I know it can be true for all of us—we are beginning to experience the incredible power of gratitude. Last week, a recent grad was attacked and robbed. He sent this text to us, bearing witness to the hope that comes when we are are able to be thankful.

I got jumped by 3 young men last night [and was left with] 2 staples in my head. Things have been ugly for me since graduation.
I feel like Satan is really trying to work on me but I’m still fighting my battles. My thing is to stay in touch with you guys because I need y’all to remain in my life. Love you guys and I hope you’re doing well.

This man is turning back fear, pain, and darkness by moving in gratitude to what he sees as a gift: the community he’s built at Advance. As I’ve processed the role of thankfulness in my life and the power it can have in the lives of staff, participants, and volunteers at Advance, I’ve found truth in this devotional from Ann Voskamp:

“…Mark Buchanan asks the most critical question of them all: ‘What initially sparks God’s anger? What is the root sin, the molten core of wickedness and godlessness—that convinces God to turn us over?’

Isn’t that what we have to figure out? It’s right there in Romans 1. It’s not the sinfulness you’d think it’s be: It’s the thanklessness—that we do. It’s our thanklessness that first stirs the full wrath of God.

The beginnings of Genesis and Romans 1 pivot on the same point: Eve’s thanklessness for all God does give and her resentfulness of the one fruit He doesn’t give, this is the catalyst of the fall. Which Romans 1 confirms:

Romans 1:18-21, 26 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind,
so that they do what ought not to be done.

Our fall is always first a failure to give thanks. The pride of thanklessness always comes before the fall…as Buchanan states, ‘All the wickedness in the world begins with an act of forgetting.’ “


Fothankfulnessrgetting what? A spirit of gratitude. My parents raised me to be thankful—it’s not a concept that’s entirely new to me. It is new, however, for me to view a lack of thankfulness as the sin that is at the heart of God’s full wrath. How did I miss the connection? I feel like a child who just found a golden key: THANKFULNESS! WOW! I’ve recently begun to intentionally cultivate thankfulness. Friends, Advance is going to go after cultivating thankfulness because it will dial back darkness in all our lives! This is good news—NOT salvation—but great news!

Oh dear friends, please join me in remembering God is good; His love endures forever, He rejoices over us with singing and gladness, and He is our redeemer! This reminder is vital in the work lives of our staff here at Advance, it is vital to the neighbors and volunteers who enter this building every day, and it is vital to each of us who seeks the Lord. Please join me and Advance in practicing a thankful heart. Don’t be surprised the next time you visit Advance if we don’t ask you for one thing you are thankful for, and we hope you’ll ask us the same.

Remember:Thankfulness creates light that shines upon Christ’s kingdom.

Thanks for your partnership in the Gospel,

Steve Nash