PRINCIPLE 46 | LIVING WITH AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This week we celebrate one day out of the year we call Thanksgiving Day. But God encourages us to be thankful always. Ephesians 5:20 says to “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything.” And I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” While this is sometimes easier said than done, it is a secret to living an overcoming life.
The Bible doesn’t promise us smooth sailing all the time. On this side of Heaven we will face ups and downs, to put it mildly. For many, 2020 has been one long “down” for many reasons. But as followers of Jesus, we must “train ourselves to be godly” and “see things as He sees them,” knowing that our “momentary trials” will be replaced with eternal blessings one day. Over and over scripture teaches us and calls us to be grateful and to recognize the many blessings we have in Christ.
So when life is hard, how can we train ourselves to be grateful? I think it is as simple as asking Jesus to help us remember the incredible blessings we enjoy. If you have food, family, a job, enough finances, a roof over your head, friends, health, faith in Christ (and you can elongate this list for yourself), then you have much to be thankful for. So instead of moving through life looking at the glass half-empty, I choose to look at the glass half-full. I count my blessings — daily.
George Washington once said, “It is vain to ruminate upon, or even reflect upon the authors or causes of our present misfortunes. We should rather exert ourselves to look forward with hopes, that some lucky chance may yet turn up in our favor.” This from a man who was often outmanned, outgunned, always under-resourced and soon to be overrun. Paul said in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” I find incredible encouragement and instruction in this short verse.
- First, I must devote myself. I must be devoted to being thankful. It is a spiritual discipline. It is an expression of worship. It is a choice. I either obey God and live my life with an attitude of gratitude — or I don’t.
- Second, I must devote myself to prayer. The more I pray the more I’m reminded of the Almighty. The more I take things to God in prayer, the more grateful I am that my God is all-loving and all-sufficient.
- Third, I must devote myself to being spiritually aware. Watchfulness and spiritual awareness are vital. I know when I’m taking my eyes off Jesus and focusing on my problems instead of on Him. I can be aware of when my problems become bigger than my God. And when they do, I need to confess, repent, and reaffirm my faith in a God who is bigger and stronger and mightier than words can express.
- And finally, I must devote myself to being thankful, which is what this entire blog is about. I must practice gratitude every day — when times are good and even when times are bad. Being grateful always and being grateful in all things doesn’t mean I deny tragedy or hardship. No, it acknowledges the reality of difficulty, but it also acknowledges the reality that God is with us, God is for us, and that God will help us. I choose to be thankful and ask
- God, what am I to learn?
- God, how can I continue to grow?
- God, how can I be a blessing to others in your name and during this challenging season?
Thanksgiving Day is special, but thanksgiving should be practiced every day. Ask God to help you develop an attitude of gratitude where you train your heart and mind to see the good and to be genuinely grateful for the many blessings that God has placed in your life. Starting with Him.