While I know having a thankful heart is key to living with the Father I had a very hard time with this chapter. I often look for a warm fuzzy feeling to go with being thankful. I expect to “feel” thankful. I rarely do. I am thankful. I appreciate many things but I rarely “feel” thankful. Something I am still sorting out.
Being thankful is a choice. I choose to be thankful regardless of feelings or circumstances, or even natural disposition. I have often tended to be the Eeyore.
- I see what’s wrong instead of right.
- I see how far there is to go instead of how far I’ve come.
- I see the work and get tired.
I also can see the good in people in hard things and I choose to give thanks.
I thank Him in faith for the things He has promised.
A roadblock to my thankfulness was “but”. There were challenging people and situations where I would thank God for some aspect then follow with a “but”.
I imagine that is much like the apology “I’m sorry, but…”
Even as I am writing this I see more areas where I have kept the “but”. I first realized it in a hard relationship. I repented and let go of that “but”. Now I see I still have “buts” to clear out of other areas.
I’m thankful for my husband’s job but I wish he didn’t have to work away.
I’m thankful we are building our dream shop but I wish it would go faster.
If I really believe God is good and working ALL things for my good I have no reason for anything but thanksgiving.
Choose to be thankful
If I forget about trying, hoping to “feel” thankful then I can see some practical ways I am working to cultivate a grateful heart.
When I or someone around me complains I find something about that same thing to be thankful for.
“It looks like rain.”
“I’m thankful, we need the rain.”
I choose to start my time with God thanking Him for something. Even on days that don’t seem too good He is always good and I can always start there. Some days I just stay there. He is good – always. I’m thankful!
Something that helps me be truly thankful and overflow in praise is to meditate on God’s word. Meditating is like marinating your mind, soul, and spirit in something. It’s constantly thinking about something.
Do you obsess? I often do, about what someone said, what I said, what I wish I had said. God made us to obsess about Him. Find a scripture and obsess about it. Allow it to become more and more true to you.
How about Romans 8:28?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. – Rom 8:28 KJV
Like I said if I really believe and focus on the fact that ALL things – delays, frustrating behavior, difficult people – are working for my good I can be really thankful. Don’t take me wrong. I am not saying bad things happening are sent by God and we are to do nothing about them. We have authority, remember? God is always speaking and can show us if there is something we can do about a bad or hard situation. While we wait and listen we can always give thanks and rejoice. (Philippians 4:4-8)
Get rid of the “buts”
Listen to your thoughts this week as you give thanks. Is there are but tagging along? Repent, confess, ask forgiveness if need be. Ask God for His perspective.
Express thanks to people, too
Developing thankfulness and the habit of expressing it in one area will increase it in all areas. God can bless us through people. We can and should thank them for blessing us.
Record and take time to remember
What has God already done for you? This can start with things that are true for every believer. Salvation. Forgiving you. Restoring you to relationship with Himself. Eternal life. Grace.
Add things specific to your story. Has He healed you? Provided special blessings? Children? Spouse? Direction? God constantly told Israel to remember. They built altars and had feasts to remember the salvation of the LORD. Jesus told us to take communion to remember.
Be thankful His faithfulness in the past reassures us of His faithfulness in the future.
I have a very simple printable you can use to frame your day if it’s helpful. As I did mine I could feel stress leaving and peace growing. I often reread it during hard times of the day.
Download printable in orange
Download printable in green