Updated: May 16, 2020
It’s easy to express gratitude when things are all good, when we get what we want, and when life is smooth. It’s much harder when darkness surrounds us, when pain consumes us, and when we are left longing for more.
But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to…
Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Gratitude is a choice, a mindset, a way of life.
Gratitude doesn’t erase or minimize the pain. We can and must hold space for lament, too, because gratitude without lament will make us delusional, but lament without gratitude will make us bitter.
Gratitude allows us to hold the brokenness and the beauty in tension. It gives us hope. It reminds us of how God has come through for us in the past. It allows us to persevere – to keep loving, to keep moving forward, and sometimes just to keep standing.
We have this message board in our house and my kids chose to display "be thankful for what you have" on it (which comes in handy when I need to remind them of that in the midst of their complaining or arguing). It's so simple, but it's a good place to start. We can spend so much time comparing our lives to others and dwelling on what we are lacking that we forget about the goodness that is right in front of us.
What gifts have you been given?
What simple joys have you experienced?
Who has shown you love and kindness?
How has God provided, redeemed, or restored in your life?
Some days it’s harder than others to find the good, but it’s there if we have the eyes to see it.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1
God’s goodness and unfailing love are the truth that we need to remember. This is the truth that allows us to keep choosing gratitude in all circumstances.
One simple way that my family and I are practicing gratitude is with this little gratitude jar. Each day, we write one thing that we’re thankful for on a small slip of paper and put it in the jar. Then, we’ll read through them all together at the end of the month.
How are you practicing gratitude? If you have a practice or an idea for a new practice to start, share it in the comments below.