“I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.” (Psalm chapter 7 verse 17)
I recently saw a video on Instagram with an adorable and well-mannered toddler who was no more than three years old. Each time his mother called him for his meal or a snack, he would come quickly and as he collected his meal, no matter what it was, he would happily respond “Thank you Mama”, and in some cases he repeated it until she told him he was welcome. This video brought a smile to my face, but it also got me thinking about gratitude, and expressing it even in the presence of challenges. Admittedly, it is not always easy to give thanks, especially when facing hard times or when everything seems to be going wrong, but it is possible.
Gratitude is a choice
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Philippians chapter 4 verse 8).
Being grateful, like showing love, is something we must choose to do. Certainly, this is not an easy feat and it will take time, especially when we are not used to expressing it or when everything around us seems to be falling apart, but as we demonstrate our gratitude more through our words and actions, it becomes effortless. I believe the first step we need to take to get there is to renew our minds and refocus our thoughts from the cares and troubles of the world to the goodness of God.
The apostle Paul encouraged the Philippian Church to think on things that were good and positive. As we think about these things, we will see more clearly the many blessings we have and real gratitude will fill our hearts and spill over into our words and actions. Also, as we centre our thoughts on things that are true, noble, right and praiseworthy, it will become harder to complain about the bad things, because they are not in our focus and it will be easier to walk away from things that cause us to have an attitude of ingratitude.
Do not let anyone steal your joy
The second thing we need to do is limit our exposure to people who will rob us of our peace of mind. That is, people who are always grumbling, complaining, focusing on the negative and showing no appreciation for the blessings in their lives; instead, they find fault in the things around them. Behaviour and attitude can be learnt and if you are around them often, you may begin to display some of these bad attributes.
It is however important to seek wisdom from the Lord and discern understanding on this. This is because sometimes when people are experiencing difficult times, they can struggle with trusting God and finding things to rejoice about can prove to be extremely difficult. In these moments, we must grant them grace and encourage them in the Lord as much as we can, constantly reminding them that despite how we feel and what we think, God is always good.
Give thanks in all things
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 16-18)
Life can be hard sometimes and it may be really difficult to give thanks. The last year has been challenging for many people but despite that, we can always find something to rejoice about. God wants us to always rejoice, even in our pain knowing that His presence is always with us and that He will use our difficulties to aid in shaping us into the image of His Son. We must “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans chapter 5 verses 3-5)
We can trust God’s character and His unfailing love toward us. When we do, we will begin to see His work all over our lives, even in the bad things we go through. Remember too that He commands us not to be “anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving to present your requests to God” (Philippians chapter 4 verse 6). As we do this,“the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians chapter 4 verse 7).
“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm chapter 106 verse 1).
Rose-Ann Durant is a young Christian from Kingston, Jamaica, who is currently living in the island of Barbados. She is an ardent reader who enjoys going to the beach, river and spending time outdoors.