Beginning a new year often means setting new goals.
I started my year with great anticipation for what was to come. The last few months of 2017 had been rocky and difficult for me. It was hard to be thankful when things were not as I wanted them to be.
Entering 2018 with a fresh perspective enabled me to consider how I could approach the challenges of life in a different way. I’ve started by creating little goals for myself for each month. January is a month of thankfulness. I have a little thankful journal where I’m able to write what I’m thankful for in each day. I often write a list at the end of the day.
What God says about being grateful
God’s Word is full of verses that encourage and command us to adopt a lifestyle of gratitude. The Bible is very clear in illustrating to us that living a life of thankfulness is not just saying “Thank you” for your meals but daily and hourly giving thanks to God in all circumstances.
The book of Psalms is packed with verses beginning with “Give thanks”. Like “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever (Psalm 107, verse 1).
Psalms also includes a decent amount of laments and complaints to God. This shows me that throughout life, God hears both our grief and our rejoicing. Therefore, despite the hardships we might face, the Psalmists show me that we are still called to be thankful to God no matter our circumstances.
Jesus lived and modelled a life of gratefulness. In front of the 5,000, he gave thanks for the food they were going to receive. To the crowds, giving thanks may have appeared silly as there was little to eat. However, Jesus knew there would be enough.
Therefore, thankfulness includes trusting in God for our every need. We can say “Thank you” for future blessings.
Practical steps to inspire gratefulness
In a society that often finds something to complain about, it can be hard to practice gratefulness in a counter-cultural way. The following are three simple steps that have proved helpful to me in my pursuit of living a holistically grateful life:
1. Keep a notebook to keep a record of what you are grateful for in your everyday. Having something physical can keep us accountable. My notebook is on my bedside table so I don’t forget to write every day a list of things I am grateful for. It is also helpful to look back through the book for encouragement when times are gloomy.
2. Say a prayer before every meal. I think one of the reasons Jesus gave thanks before a meal was to remind us to be thankful for other things. Praying before a meal can add three ‘thank you’ prayers to the day. When you pray for your meal, pray for a few other things you are thankful for too.
3. Before the day ends and your eyes begin to close, say thank you to God for the countless blessings in your day. List the blessings instead of counting sheep. I find that as soon as I hit my pillow, I am so thankful knowing that I have a safe place to sleep and I begin to think of the other gifts God has graciously blessed me with.
The ‘Who’ behind our life of gratitude
Many people live a life of thankfulness yet they do not have anyone to thank. They do not know the God of the universe who made all they give thanks for. It’s as if their “Thank you” is like speaking into the air.
But for Christians, every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). This verse points us to the ‘Who’ behind our thankfulness. Therefore, living a life of thankfulness draws us closer to our Father.
In the mundane tasks of the day, in the hardships that surprise us and joys that comfort us; we are called to be thankful to a great God.
Renee Jenner resides in Sydney, Australia and is currently in her third year of studying Social Work. She is the first born of home-base missionary parents whose ministry has made a huge impression on her heart. She always writes from the soul to the soul, desiring to encourage readers to enjoy God, relax in His goodness and spread His love to the utmost parts of the earth. She loves a good cuppa with a deep, thoughtful conversation. You can find her other writings at renee.jenner.wordpress.com
Renee Jenner resides in Sydney, Australia and is a recently qualified social worker who has recently found a job! She is the first born of home-base missionary parents whose ministry has made a huge impression on her heart. She always writes from the soul to the soul, desiring to encourage readers to enjoy God, relax in His goodness and spread His love to the utmost parts of the earth. She loves a good cuppa with a deep, thoughtful conversation. You can find her other writings at renee.jenner.wordpress.com