Living a life of gratefulness takes effort. It doesn’t seem like it should, but it does.
So much of life is busy and our focus often goes to the trying and difficult things. The problems get our attention, and instead of being grateful, we vent.
Venting about our struggles is pretty much the opposite of being grateful.
When something negative happens, all these feelings rush in. Frustration, anger, fear, and they need somewhere to go. That makes sense, so we vent. Sometimes we share our complaints with friends. Other times we yell at the air or slam a door. Rarely do we stop, bend a knee, and thank God for all of it.
Why would we be grateful for the bad stuff? That’s crazy talk. Gratefulness is for Thanksgiving and positive thinking. Not for adding perspective and helping us grow.
But there’s another aspect to gratefulness that speaks to how we see the world.
The very act of gratefulness indicates we are not, at least in one area, the one who brings the blessing. Someone outside of ourselves has given us something we appreciate. Being grateful puts a value on that appreciation. It adds meaning.
I’ve heard a lot lately about finding your three things each day for which to be thankful. This is supposed to help you focus on the positives. It’s healthy to keep your mind trained on the good stuff. But the gratefulness I’m alluding to is not about positive thinking.
True gratefulness is about surrendered living.
It’s recognizing someone else’s kindness, presence, and generosity. And it’s laying down our sense of entitlement and honoring someone other than ourselves.
That’s all good for presents, bonuses, and help given in the time of need. It makes sense to be grateful for stuff like that. But what about the bad things? Can a sense of gratefulness be experienced in our hardships, as well?
This past year my basement flooded. This came while I was recovering from a nasty sickness and had just lost my job. I stood in ankle deep water, leaned on a stack of boxes, and thanked God.
The magnitude of what lay before me hadn’t fully hit me yet, and I’m glad it hadn’t. If I’d understood the road ahead, I might have said something besides thank you in that moment.
I didn’t thank Him for the awfulness of all my unpacked boxes getting soaked. Somehow, in His grace, God showed me I wasn’t alone. God’s deep love and provision follow us into the pits of life.
There are things to be thankful for during our trials. They won’t be easy to see, but it is possible to find them. Even there we can be grateful.
So, whether you’re experiencing wonderful blessings or are struggling to find anything for which to be grateful, take heart! God loves you. He has blessed you, and He will bless you again. Read these verses, and may He guide your heart to a place of true gratefulness.
Psalms 105:1 – 105:3
“O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.”
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalms 34:1 – 34:3
“I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.”
“Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.”
Psalms 117:1 – 117:2
“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.”
“I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.”
Psalms 138:1 – 138:2
“I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”
“So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.”
Psalms 95:1 – 95:6
“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”
Psalms 37:3 – 37:5
“Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Psalms 103:1 – 103:5
“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Psalms 145:18 – 145:19
“The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.”
Psalms 118:1 – 118:5
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever. Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.”
“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
Psalms 100:1 – 100:5
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
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