Friends, today I put on my gratitude ambassador hat. I love this topic.
First, I’ll get one thing out of the way. I’m not always great at gratitude. Honestly, one of my biggest flaws is my tendency to collapse into ‘victim-mode’ at a moment’s notice. I’ve uttered “Why doesn’t anything go right for me?” or “Of course this would happen to me!” plenty of times.
Usually I say these in a whiny voice as though I’m joking; however, I think my heart often truly believes the lie that God is not working for my good. I’ve had to retrain my heart and mind to begin believing that he is, in fact, for me in every situation. And I am not perfect at it, of course.
Therefore, as always, I’m learning next to you. God has taught me a lot over the last year or so, and I am excited to share. Let’s talk thankfulness.
Gratitude adds peace to the past.
I don’t know about you, but I can describe my past in a terrible light if I try. Instead of focusing on the brightest times, I mark entire years by one huge mistake I made, a friendship I lost, a lonely few months–anything that stung or continues to sting. I believe Satan would like to keep us here, with our gaze on our wounds.
Choosing thankfulness doesn’t mean ignoring what hurts us. By all means, I encourage you to allow yourself to feel any loss, rejection, lingering confusion, or pain. Bring all of your feelings to the Lord.
Instead, gratitude adds “and” to your story. It turns “I really messed that up.” into “I failed, and God showed up in ways I could’ve never imagined.” Choosing to focus on the good feels unnatural at first, but I’ve found that rewriting my past with threads of gratefulness brings healing.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1: 2-4 (ESV)
Gratitude gives joy to every season of life.
Here’s where I’m going to encourage counting your little, everyday blessings.
No cringing, please, because I know what you may be thinking. Gratitude can feel so forced and fake in the midst of a busy, stressful, and sometimes downright disappointing life.
Please be thankful anyway.
Thank God for a gorgeous sky. For a great conversation with a dear friend. For laughter or puppies or iced coffee.
When nothing goes right, find anything to be thankful for. I have sincerely prayed: “Lord, I am so frustrated and scared right now, but thank you for that tree over there. It’s… nice.”
You will feel silly sometimes, but you have to let joy in. You were created to do so in all things.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (ESV)
Gratitude leads to expecting future goodness.
This one is my favorite.
Let’s say you put the work in. You spend time journaling about past hurts and look for God’s faithfulness in it all. You add tons of “and” to your personal narrative and see a new, beautiful picture emerge. You praise Jesus for all of the black, white, and gray.
You grin at babies in front of you at church and say, “Thanks, God.” You let your friends know how grateful you are for their listening ear and sense of humor. You stub your toe and thank God for bandages through gritted teeth.
You experience devastation. You sing “It Is Well with My Soul” through tears.
What happens next?
In my own experience, two things represent the deep shift in my spirit:
my new favorite word, ‘expectant,’ and the truth in Psalm 23:6.
After I started to practice (and failed often!) taking note of God’s goodness around me, I started believing that more goodness would follow.
When I thank God for all he has done, I become confident that he will continue to do more than I could ever ask or imagine. Instead of entering each day wary of what could go wrong, I am expectant.
And I can wholeheartedly claim what King David wrote so long ago–that goodness will follow me all the days of my life.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
I used to think this verse was radical. Goodness all the days of my life? Not possible! But I’ve found that it’s true. Because God is good and he never leaves us, his goodness is always present.
I choose to find it, call it out loudly, and keep hunting for more. He is faithful.
Thanks for reading. Below, please let me know what you are grateful for today!