Gratitude and Thankfulness

Gratitude and Thankfulness

You may have read those words in the title and thought, “I have nothing for which to be grateful or thankful! This is May 2020 and COVID-19 is still slowing down, changing my life and I don’t, and I won’t like it at all!” Ok, maybe, it’s not you but you know someone who is feeling that way.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) reminds us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

We may have memorized that verse at sometime in our life but how do we rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances?

But how do we rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances?

Let me offer some thoughts about why this is hard, and what we might be able to do to change our thinking (Philippians 4:8).

There are some chains that we’ve adopted/added to our lives over the years that are keeping us in bondage. Here are just a few: selfishness, pride, self-reliance, feelings of unworthiness or how we judge ourselves and others. It’s our ego that gets in the way!

Lead Like Jesus reminds us in the Edging God Out material that pride and fear are two of the symptoms of a life that is edging God out of His rightful place in our lives. He’s the One we should worship not our “stuff.” He’s the Source of our security, self-worth and wisdom. He’s our only Audience and Authority for every aspect of our lives.  We often forget the great truths that can change our focus and direction in life.

For all the chains that might keep us from being grateful and thankful, the benefits are so much greater than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Here are just a few:

  • More and better relationships
  • Improves physical health
  • Improves empathy and reduces aggression
  • Improves psychological and mental health
  • Improves sleep, anxiety and depression
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Improves mental strength
  • Opens our hearts to receive God’s blessings

What would you add to this list? Don’t you want to start today? If not, why not?

But, if you are ready, here are a few ways to get started:

            1. Who/What is dearest to your heart? Thank God for that person, object, etc.

            2. Give thanks for your family, your church, your job, for particular people in your life.

            3. C.S. Lewis said, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."   Give thanks for that person in your life. If you can’t think of anyone, ask God to provide that person for you.

            4. Give thanks for the hard things in your life – the things you don’t like or don’t understand.

I found #4 especially hard for me and it took some time. I asked God to help me understand how I could be grateful for this one thing. What I realized was that giving thanks and being grateful is an act of my obedient will. When I released my greatest hard thing to His care and gave thanks for that challenge in my life, He flooded my heart and mind with the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

The journey to gratitude and thankfulness may seem long and challenging but it will forever change your heart, your mind, your attitude and your outlook!

Give it a try!

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Karen McGuire

Karen McGuire came to Lead Like Jesus in February 2004 following the first Lead Like Jesus Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, in November 2003, where she served as the volunteer coordinator. She comes with vast experience in local church ministry and denominational work and has been instrumental in the formation of several successful nonprofit ventures, including two churches, a seminary, a medical missions organization, and a welfare-to-work program. Karen served on several church staffs, held many volunteer positions in her local church, and is a Bible study teacher and seminar and retreat leader. She has one son and two young adult granddaughters.

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