Now that we’ve come through the Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to share some thoughts about how to create a habit of thankfulness that will last beyond the turkey and gravy we enjoy with our friends and family on the 4th Thursday of November. Since 1 Thessalonians 5:18 informs us that thankfulness is part of God’s will for our lives, we would all be wise to invest time in expressing our thanks for more often. Here are three thoughts about how to make that happen:
- Thankfulness is bigger than the circumstances you face. In the verse mentioned above, Paul writes, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for your life.” (It should be noted that prayer, v. 17, and joy, v. 16, are also included as part of God’s will.) You don’t have to do too much study to understand that God expects His children to be thankful, regardless of the circumstances that confront us. In other words, thankfulness isn’t simply a feeling we express, or an emotion we experience, but rather an attitude and habit we develop. You don’t have to feel thankful, in order to be thankful.
- Thankfulness flows easiest, when our God is worshipped. Hebrews 12:28 reminds us of the eternal nature of our future home with God, and out of that reminder comes two commands: be thankful and worship God. There is an unmistakable connection between worship (putting God in his rightful place in our lives) and thankfulness, and when God is elevated properly, thankfulness flows easily. After all, when we recognize the greatness of God, our circumstances don’t seem so daunting, and our capacity to utter thanksgiving is expanded. If you are in a personal relationship with God, you already have so much for which to be grateful!
- Prayer and thankfulness are closely related. I think it was Spurgeon who once said, “If prayer and joy were wed, their first child would be thankfulness.” When we read about thankfulness in the Bible, we can’t help but see the intimate connection it has to prayer. In 7 of Paul’s letters in the New Testament, he begins by expressing thankfulness through prayer for the people to whom he is writing. Philippians 4:6 may be the clearest on this concept: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Where there is much prayer, there is much thanksgiving!
How are you doing in developing a habit of thankfulness? If you’re struggling, if you’re circumstances have become bigger than your God, you might consider evaluating who or what it is you worship, or maybe you need to get on your knees and spend more time in prayer. You see, in worship, we elevate God by ascribing to Him what is already His; we remind ourselves that He is God over everything! In Prayer, we commit ourselves to trusting Him, and to believing that His plan is best and right, and that our desire is to follow Him, not change Him. In either case, both worship and prayer give us perspective, and when we have the right perspective, we will find countless reasons to give thanks.
Yes, it’s easy to be thankful when things are going well and life is “easy.” But God’s children are called to be thankful “in all circumstances” and that requires more than just will power; it requires a perspective that comes from being intimately connected to God. Deepen your worship and prayer, and I’m confident you will increase your ability to give thanks.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is better on the water (and there is much for which we can be thankful!)