I recently read Nancy Leigh Demoss’ book Choosing Gratitude.
Because while I write in my gratitude journal almost daily and tend to think of myself as a mostly thankful person, it’s so easy to slip into complaining and negative thinking while ignoring all the blessings around me.
Since reading Demoss’ book, Bible verses related to gratefulness and praise have been jumping out at me everywhere. From Psalms (I try to read at least a portion of a psalm each day) to Colossians (the epistle I’m studying this month), I keep encountering verses that command or remind me to praise the Lord and be thankful to Him.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Many times we have these big questions about God’s will. What is God’s will for my life? How can I find out exactly what He wants me to do?
Well, with this verse before us, we’re not left to guess. We’re specifically told God’s will in this area.
Sounds simple enough – It’s God’s will for me to be thankful in every thing in life.
But sometimes that’s a tall order.
It’s easier when life seems good; not so much when times are hard. When the car’s running smoothly and the kids aren’t fighting and we got an unexpected refund from the insurance company, blessings may just roll off our tongues. Though sometimes I might be tempted to think I’m just living right and deserve these gifts, rather than recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from God. [James 1:17]
Then there are the trying times when the car’s in the shop for the second time this month and a child is in trouble at school and the bill for car repairs is higher than expected. Then the search for blessings to list takes a little bit longer and I have to dig a bit more deeply to find those words of praise.
I think one sign of spiritual maturity is to look around in the midst of the hard and recognize a sign of God’s grace or a blessing here or a kindness there, and to thank God for those little rays of light in the midst of our darkness.
Beyond that is thanking God for what we’re facing in the midst of it, when we can’t even see a way out. To sit, as Job did, surrounded by the ashes of our losses, and look to God and bless His name. [Job 1:20-21]
After all, the verse above says “in” every thing, which indicates to me that it’s while we’re going through the trial that we give thanks for it. And while the giving thanks in the moment won’t magically make things better, it can thoroughly change our perspective and allow us to accept the peace and grace God has to offer.
How can I teach this principle of gratitude to my children? Modeling it is certainly the first step. Actually naming my blessings for them, sharing what I’m grateful for, perhaps even gently pointing out an answer to prayer or a victory in their own life for which they can be thankful can get them thinking about their own blessings. Songs of praise and Bible verses that focus on God’s gifts to us can encourage them to have a more grateful spirit.
So do you want to do the will of God for you today? Easy day or difficult one, sunshine or rain, health or sickness, smiles or frowns from those around you – we can choose to give thanks.
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