An Attitude of Gratitude
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It’s easy to be grateful when circumstances turn out well, but thankfulness doesn’t have to be limited just to the good times. Not only is it possible to be thankful in difficulties, it’s also beneficial. Thankful people cope better than those who grumble and complain. How, then, do we develop an attitude of gratitude when life is tough? The letters of “gratitude” give us some clues.
Give praise to God at all times. Praise takes your focus off yourself and places it on Him. Despite our changing circumstances, He never changes, so we can always praise Him for who He is.
Remember what God has done. Bringing to mind some of the things God has done in the past can be a stimulus to offer gratitude for what He is doing now and will do in the future.
Always be thankful. God’s will for us involves giving thanks in all circumstances.1 If we want our lives to be in line with God’s will for us, let’s be thankful—always!
Trust God completely. This can be one of the hardest things to do when life is difficult. Not knowing why something is happening or how long it’s likely to continue can challenge even the deepest faith. However, God cautions us about leaning on our own understanding and invites us to trust Him wholeheartedly.2
Intentionally choose your attitude. There are many things that are beyond our control, but choosing our attitude is something we can control. Why not exercise that choice today?
Think before you grumble and complain. A grumbling and complaining attitude can so easily become the default response to situations that we don’t like. Instead, think “attitude of gratitude.”
Understand that attitudes are learned. It takes time to develop a consistent attitude of gratitude, so don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t happen immediately.
Develop friendships with positive, encouraging people. Attitudes are contagious and, sometimes unconsciously, we take on how other people feel about a situation. We need to surround ourselves with grateful people who will encourage us to do likewise.
Enjoy God’s blessings. Ever tried naming specific ways that God has blessed you? Write these down, perhaps beginning with three, moving on to ten, twenty, or even more! ...
Having an attitude of gratitude is not a denial of unpleasant circumstances, nor is it a response that only a few people can demonstrate. It’s a matter of choice. We can choose to be grateful and reap the related benefits.—Florence MacKenzie3
Gratefulness: The will of God
Good manners and common courtesy tell us that we are to thank a person who gives us a gift. Yet we often forget to thank our heavenly Father for the gifts that He bestows on us daily. The Bible says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God,”4 and we are instructed to “enter into His gates [God’s presence] with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.”5
What has God given us? Everything! The life we live, our family and friends, the wondrous world we live in, and every simple and beautiful joy we experience. If you stop to think about the gifts God has given you, doesn’t it make you want to thank and praise Him for them?
You may not know exactly how to express your thanks to God and His Son, Jesus, our Savior. You might feel your words are not eloquent enough. Take heart. God delights in hearing you express your sincere thanksgiving from the heart, with words many or few, lofty or simple, flowing or halting. God sees the praise in your heart and translates it into beautiful melodies.
Just think, you have the ability to give Jesus daily gifts of gratitude. May we be inspired to say as King David of old, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”6 As you take the time to praise and thank Him, you will find that you become increasingly aware of the wonderful blessings that the Lord showers upon you daily, in ways both big and small.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that your worshipful praises direct your heart heavenward and enable you to enter into His presence at any time?—Maria Fontaine
A grateful heart
A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet recently in which a wounded soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his one good leg and threw both arms around the presenter. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He hugged the guitar player in the band and the big woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter again. Before the night was over, he thanked me! And I didn’t do anything.
Shouldn’t we be equally grateful? Jesus is building a house for us.7 Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier. What’s more, Jesus cured our leprosy. Sin cankered our souls and benumbed our senses. Yet the Man on the path told us we were healed, and, lo and behold, we were!
The grateful heart is like a magnet sweeping over the day, collecting reasons for gratitude. A zillion diamonds sparkle against the velvet of your sky every night. Thank you, God. A miracle of muscles enables your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them. Thank you, God. Your lungs inhale and exhale eleven thousand liters of air every day. Your heart will beat about three billion times in your lifetime. Your brain is a veritable electric generator of power. Thank you, God.
For the jam on our toast and the milk on our cereal. For the blanket that calms us and the joke that delights us and the warm sun that reminds us of God’s love. For the thousands of planes that did not crash today. ... Thank you, Lord.
Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover his heart. To discover his heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up.
Join the ranks of the 10 percent who give God a standing ovation. “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”8—Max Lucado9
It’s all about attitude
I was inspired the other day when I read some personal accounts on a friend’s blog on the subject of praising God for His goodness. It gave me pause.
Generally, I am a thankful person. I post inspirational stories on my blog or send them to friends and family by email to share with them the good things that happen in my life. Still, after all these years, I wasn’t in the habit of praising God even in the “bad” things that happen in my life. I also wasn’t in the habit of focusing my thoughts on the good or praising when I was in the middle of adversity.
But after I read my friend’s post, I was reminded that the little daily things—a sandwich, a shower, a sunset, an encouraging word from a friend, a walk—are all events that are worthy of thanksgiving.
Previously I’d always waited for an outstanding life event before I would become ecstatic in praise—like the first time I flew on an airplane, or the day I will meet my future wife or become a father. But that’s a lot of waiting and a lot of missed chances to be grateful when I could and should be thankful to God for the everyday blessings.
That’s easier said than done, but I realized that I could indeed make the choice to adopt a “gratitude attitude.”
May I remember my own words when I’m stuck in downtown traffic, or when the rain is coming down in torrents, or when the person I’m trying to share a message of God’s love with isn’t ready to receive it right then. All those everyday life annoyances won’t rule my attitude. I can still rejoice and be glad in those times when I determine to see God’s goodness and give thanks in all things and choose to praise the Lord for another day of life.—Bryan Whyte
Published on Anchor November 2021. Read by Jerry Paladino.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
2 Proverbs 3:5.
4 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
5 Psalm 100:4.
6 Psalm 34:1.
7 John 14:2.
8 Ephesians 5:20 NLT.