Four Obstacles to Gratitude

Four Obstacles to Gratitude

When the Israelites turned to Him in their distress, God remembered His people and provided a deliverer for them. By saving them, God was claiming them as His people and extending an invitation for the Israelites to see themselves as His people.

God was giving them a new identity.

As they followed Moses through the desert (a place that creates thirst), here is how the Israelites responded:

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” – Exodus 16:2-3

They responded ungratefully. And this was not an isolated incident. When God provided bread, they complained of having no meat. When they wanted water, they complained about Moses. When Moses went to meet with God, they complained that he had abandoned them.

God describes this as being stiff-necked. Their eyes were focused downward, on themselves, rather than being raised towards heaven, the source of their true identity.

They had not surrendered their identity to God, and instead were still centered on self.

The thirst that the desert revealed was for more of what they already had. 

This is the source of ingratitude. And the false self throws up many obstacles to gratitude in its effort to be satisfied, including:

  • Comparison – Looking to others for a measure of significance. Wanting what others have when that benefits you and drawing feelings of superiority when what you have is ‘better’.
  • Scarcity – The mindset that there will never be enough that leads to you clinging to the little you do have. Possessiveness and stinginess result.
  • Expectations – The though that others (people or God) are keeping you form having what you want.
  • Busyness – An inability to see what you already have because you are continually focused on the next thing.

Each of these is a symptom of being disconnected from God. Of being stiff-necked.

The proper response is not to try harder to be more generous or to force yourself to stop be busy or comparing.

The proper thing is to reconnect with the image of God – Jesus – and draw your worth from Him.

To help you lift your eyes and relieve your stiff-neck, I am offering you a free guide-sheet of gratitude exercises. Simply click the link below.

Gratitude Exercises

With what are of your life do you find it most difficult to be thankful?


I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.

Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching,  speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.

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