The past few days I have encountered the topic of gratefulness. Whether through a passing remark by a friend, or reading something, or even a conversation, I sit here trying to think about something to write to you about and keep going back to that: gratefulness.
The Importance of Gratefulness
When should we be grateful? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Being grateful for everything is possibly the hardest thing to do. If we were honest with ourselves I think we would say that even the things that aren’t all that bad are things we still aren’t grateful for. Those are the things we take for granted. We all do it. I do it. Human beings are not naturally grateful creatures. It’s something we have got to ask God to help us with. And it takes effort. I know from personal experience that you cannot just say, “Dear God, please help me to be grateful for this, this, and this” and expect it to work; because the next thing you know I’m grumbling about that thing or person I just asked to be grateful for.
It is not possible to reap the full benefit of anything God gives you – circumstance, possession, relationship – if you are not grateful for it. And that right there should be enough for all of us to want to learn to be grateful for every thing God has given us. We are responsible for utilizing each and every gift to the best of our abilities for the glory and honor of God our Father.
It is a truly remarkable thing to think of all I am blessed with, and it is my prayer that I can learn to be more grateful for each of them in the future.
So how do you practice gratefulness?
Here are four ways to help us incorporate a little more gratitude into our attitude:
- Prayer. If you know me, you know my first answer is always prayer! Long-term gratefulness is a daunting undertaking. It is something that we as sinful human beings cannot accomplish ourselves. So the only way we could get going and/or keep it up is through constant prayer.
- Count your blessings. Just like the hymn goes. Go ahead, do it! I promise you it will put you into a good mood. If you’re thinking, “Okay, I’ve got to snap out of this cranky mood,” start thinking of all the good in your life – all of your blessings – and that will help.
- Surround yourself with positive people. The people you spend the most time with are the people who will influence you the most. So be with encouraging, uplifting family and friends who will help you stay positive and grateful.
- Bible memorization. Psalms is jammed full of chapters on thankfulness. Memorize some of them and recite them throughout the day. Even consider a memory buddy to do it with you, which would also be good for accountability.
This may seem like a short list of things you already have thought about. But if you make an effort to do a few, if not all of them daily, what a difference it could truly make!
And what about bad situations – are we grateful for those?
This past weekend I became pretty sick with a stomach virus. I was laid up in bed for the better part of three days and for about 24 hours of it I was absolutely miserable. I shared some kind things that some of my siblings had done for me and a friend told me that they loved how I looked for the good in that situation. Now, before you think I’m trying to toot my own horn, I’ve got to tell you that I wasn’t feeling grateful at all. At least about being sick (I was, however, grateful for the things that my siblings did for me). But it got me thinking about how we are told to be grateful for all things. Every single thing that we encounter is something to be grateful for. How do you be grateful for a stomach virus? Well, that’s hard. I think of the things that happened because of my being sick, like my little brother’s and sister’s acts of kindness towards me. They knew I wasn’t feeling well so they thought of something kind to do for me because they loved me. I’m so grateful for that!
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of gratefulness in a bad situation comes from Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place. In it she tells of when she and her sister were put into a German camp (World War II time period) and there were fleas absolutely everywhere. Betsie, Corrie’s sister, told her to give God thanks for everything, including the fleas. Corrie thought her sister was crazy, but later on found out that because the fleas were so bad the guards of the camp stayed away as much a possible, enabling the ten Boom sisters to share the wonderful love of their Heavenly Father with the other women in the camp every day they were there!
What an incredible example of gratefulness! I was blown away the first time I heard that story. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus…”
It is the will of God that you give thanks in every. single. situation. in which you find yourself.
Is this an easy thing to do? Not at all!
Is it worth it? It is one of the most worthwhile things you could do!
The world needs to see more gratefulness and through that they will see God’s love. It is work. It is a choice. Every single day you have to choose to be grateful. No, I don’t mean just you. Let it start with me! I want to choose gratefulness… thankfulness… JOY! A life of joy is one that is full of contentment and peace. I don’t want to miss out on that and I don’t want you to, either.
Dear Lord, please help me to wake up every morning and choose to have a grateful heart. Help me to count my blessings and be nothing but grateful for them. Please show me how to give thanks in every situation, even in the bad because I have no idea how it could impact me or someone around me in the future. Only You can.