Are you feeling down these days because of everything you are being denied? Are you feeling like you can’t face one more day of changing regulations and stay at home orders? Are you drowning in the sea of self-pity because you are stuck at home, an essential worker, or lost your job, or you will never get to walk across that stage to receive your diploma? There is only one cure for all these feelings and attitudes, gratitude. Yep, that’s it! Sounds simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is simple, except we complicate it with all excuses and reasons why it isn’t the cure.
The Source of Gratitude
Before toilet paper memes and knowing the governors’ names of every state was a thing, gratitude was a pretty big thing in the world. Gratitude was toted at the top of the list to help you have a happier and healthier life. And while it is true that gratitude does do both of those things, the secret is in knowing where to send that gratitude. For the Christian, our gratitude goes straight up, to our Heavenly Father. Truly it is the only place gratitude should go (I Chronicles 16:23-26) because He is the giver of all things (James 1:17).
While gratitude is a simple practice to get into it, it does require you to make it a habit kind of like brushing your teeth, drinking enough water, or even wearing a mask required you to practice those things before they felt natural consciously. Now I don’t think wearing a mask could ever feel natural, but it is where we are at these days! Gratitude takes practice until it feels natural and requires baby steps. You don’t go from complaining and grumpy to listing twenty benefits of having a big toe overnight.
How Gratitude Becomes A Habit
The Bible is full of commands to be thankful (Colossians 3:15, 4:2, Philippians 4:6-7, Hebrews 13:15). God must have known how easy it would be for us to stay in the land of negativity and to complain, so He reminds us throughout His Word to turn our frowns upside down (Psalm 69:30, Psalm 95:1-3, 1 Chronicles 29:13). Praise is synonymous with gratitude. Do a Google or Strong’s Concordance search of thankfulness and praise, and you will come up with a list of verses to last you quite awhile!
How does gratitude become a habit? How do you actually practice gratitude and praise? To start off with, let’s look at one heroine of the faith and what she has to say about it. Elisabeth Elliot said, “It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than resentful over what is withheld. One attitude or the other becomes a way of life.”
Wow, that really takes the wind out of your complaint! This was spoken by a person who was in love with the man of her dreams for years before God gave them the go-ahead to get married, a few years later he was brutally murdered leaving her a single mother who chose to live with the very tribe who killed him so she could share Jesus with them.
Practical Guidance on Gratitude
Reading biographies of past Christian brothers and sisters will do wonders for your heart and help plant the seed of gratitude in you. The trials and suffering they passed through for the sake of the gospel are humbling, to say the very least.
Find a notebook, journal, anything to write on, and condition yourself to write down five things every day you are thankful for. Over time, increase the number, and you will be amazed how you will go from writing, “I am thankful for my hand” to “I am thankful that my hands and fingers have the dexterity to type on my computer.”
Choose a topic and either write or rehearse to yourself every aspect of why you can be thankful for that. I will give an example of eyes here. I am grateful for two eyes to see with for with these two eyes I can quickly detect something close up and far away and see every shade and hue of color ever created by my loving Heavenly Father. Our eyes also adjust to light and dark. The Lord gave us eyelids that detect flying debris and close quickly to protect our eyes. My eyes can see my babies change and grow into adulthood. Eyes also perceive depth, height, and width and detect the slightest movement and aid me in staying safe. Eyes speak volumes without uttering one sound out of my mouth. Eyes can cry to relieve pain or increase joy. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Look at the everyday items in your house and consider them luxuries, because that is what they are for most of the world! A home that was engineered to make sure all the walls and the roof come together in such a way that you stay dry, warm, and cool. Heat and air conditioning at the touch of a button. Lights in every room with the flip of a switch. Clean water that comes out of not just one faucet but several. Toilets and showers inside the house that function with basically no effort on your part. A refrigerator and freezer that most likely have food in them and can be filled from any number of stores on any given day. Multiple convenient ways to cook your food: stovetop, oven, microwave, toaster oven, grill, electric skillet, Crockpot, Instapot, rice cooker, and the list could go on!
I hope you consider at least one of these ways to help launch yourself into a life of gratitude. It will most likely not change your circumstance but will most definitely change your perspective. Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Psalm 107:8-9, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
Are you hungry and thirsty for a change in your attitude, heart, and mind? Ask your Heavenly Father to fill you with gratitude; He is more than happy to help. Right thoughts always put us in a frame of mind that leans toward thankfulness.
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
Choose gratitude over gripes, thankfulness over tirades, and praise over pouts!