Are We Truly Grateful?
“I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 (NIV)
In his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul reminded the Thessalonian congregation to “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, GW)
“Whatever happens, give thanks.” This is how God asks us to show Him gratitude – not only when things go well for us, but also when we find ourselves in pain and in moments of loss.
We have more to be grateful for today than any generation in history. Our lives are filled with conveniences and luxuries even the wealthiest elite from just 100 years ago couldn’t imagine. Regardless of how negative the news might be every day, humans are healthier and live longer, fuller lives than ever before. We have clothes to wear, food to eat, homes to live in.
The global Christian organization World Vision reports that over the last 30 years, more than 1.2 billion people have risen out of extreme poverty. We indeed have much to be grateful for. And when things go well in our lives, it’s easy to bow our heads in prayer, grateful for our blessings.
In reality, the endless demands of life, the worries of daily pressures, and the constant reminders of evil seemingly all around us can sometimes push gratitude out of our hearts, replacing it with defeat. In the midst of being “in the world” we often forget to pause and thank God for all He has done and continues doing in our lives.
And sometimes, it’s just hard. We’re tired and struggling. We’ve prayed for things we believe we want or need and it feels like God hasn’t answered us. He seems distant, cold. Why should we be grateful?
True gratitude is more than simply expressing our thanks when God answers our prayers. God expects us to be grateful in all things. Similar to how Jesus asked the multitudes during the Sermon on the Mount “if you love those who love you, what reward do you have,” (Matthew 5:46, ESV) showing gratitude to God only in times of plenty misses the redeeming power it can bring to us.
- Gratitude takes our eyes away from us and back to God as the center of our lives.
- Gratitude teaches us humility, and the truth that we are never really in control.
- Gratitude reminds us of how much we have to be thankful for, even the smallest of things.
- Gratitude reinforces God’s place as the Giver of all good things in our lives.
Gratitude, true thankfulness, is a choice we make every day, in times of good or bad. It opens our minds to the realization that God not only works to change our situations, He also works to change our hearts. When our hearts are filled with gratitude, the power our struggles have over us disappear, regardless of our circumstances. Gratitude leads us to know God’s peace within us, to be filled with the joy His presence.
2020 has been an extraordinarily difficult year for all of us. Many are convinced God has deserted them, leaving them to face the world on their own. Others feel isolated and completely alone, unsure how they will cope. No matter where you are, no matter what your circumstances, know that God is with you now as He always has been.
Choose a heart of gratitude today, in this moment. Think about and pray over the abundance God has blessed you with, abundance we so often take for granted. Thank Him for His provision and trust that He knows and will provide exactly what you need, even in this uncertain season.
Blessings in Christ
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