I remember at family Thanksgiving gatherings growing up, my Grandma liked to have everyone share something they are thankful for before we all ate. At times, these moments seemed awkward, uncomfortable or maybe even forced. But, as we went around the room and all shared something, you could tell that it was good for the soul and the environment. A spirit of thankfulness entered the room. My spirits were always lifted and my perspective was adjusted.
If I took a poll and asked various people how often they practice thankfulness, I’m sure that there would be a lot of people saying that they really struggle to maintain a thankful mindset. It’s often easier to look toward the negative in a situation than the positive. I do though, know some people that seem to naturally gravitate towards thankfulness. Every time I interact with someone like this, I’m not only challenged in my own life, but I’m reminded that thankfulness is a choice that we have to make, and it’s a good choice.
Striving to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty is a good choice.
Is it easy? Of course not.
Sometimes, life hits us head on with a real tragedy or struggle. It’s hard to be thankful in those moments, and I believe that there is a time to mourn, grieve and be discouraged. The problem though, is when we remain discouraged, choosing to do nothing about it long term.
The purpose of this blog is not to pretend to know what everyone is going through and compare, but rather to remind everyone that whatever circumstance they find themselves in, a perspective of thankfulness can still be offered, particularly for the Christian.
Here are a few thoughts as to why it’s a good choice to strive for thankfulness:
- Thankfulness is God’s will for you.
God desires for us to be thankful. The will of God in our lives is not just future tense, but also present tense and day by day. Thankfulness must be one of the key components as we seek and spend time with God on a daily basis.
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:18
- Thankfulness points to God.
Because of who God is, we can be thankful. Because of what God has done for us, we can be thankful. God is worthy of our praise and worship. When we choose to be thankful, we are acknowledging the presence of God in our lives.
“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” -Psalm 106:1
- Thankfulness is good for you.
When my focus is more on my circumstance rather than God, I easily become anxious and fearful. When I choose to focus in on prayer and God’s Word, my anxiety lessens. A posture of thankfulness before God helps me shift my focus in the right direction. Being thankful helps us on many levels: spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.
“..do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Your thankfulness is good for others.
Corporately, when Christians together are expressing thankfulness to God, everyone is encouraged and edified by it. As I mentioned earlier in this blog, I’m much more inspired after spending time with someone who is optimistic and practices thankfulness, rather than someone who is negative and pessimistic. A thankful heart can be contagious to others!
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” -Colossians 3:15-16
So, thankfulness is a choice. Is it always our first reaction and what comes natural to us? Of course not. In fact, it often times is a discipline that we have to cultivate in our lives. But making the choice to be thankful is a good decision. Striving for thankfulness is worth it. Wherever you find yourself today, my prayer is that you can lean into what you’re thankful for.