Our faith in Christ gives us the power to live in ways we never thought possible. There’s no denying that life brings pain; physical pain, financial pain and emotional pain. We will experience hard times and yet because of our faith in Christ, we become people of hope. Sometimes that means facing the tough times with a spirit of gratitude. Three things I want to share with you about gratitude.
Gratitude doesn’t come when you get what you want, it comes when you recognize what you have already received. We have been blessed far more than we realize. Sometimes we are focused on getting what we want before we are grateful, but the truth of the matter is we have already received so many blessings.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances. Pray constantly.” Notice Paul didn’t say give thanks FOR all circumstances. Sometimes the things that happen in life are painful and hurtful and hard, so he encourages us to give thanks IN all circumstances.
Every prayer should include gratitude in addition to our prayers of petition. It’s also important for us, as followers of Christ, to practice consistent spiritual disciplines. Practice feeling the presence of God and pray constantly. You can pray before you start your day, throughout the day, before a meal and at the end of the day. Being in constant conversation with God is a transformational spiritual practice. Attend worship, regularly, be a part of a Bible study, have a daily devotional life. Each of these practices help us to make the daily choice to live a life of gratitude.
The other powerful thing about gratitude is it opens our eyes and shifts our focus from our own problems to truly seeing others. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul tells us, “Encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with them all so that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.” Through the eyes of pain, we can begin to see the pain of others.
You and I will struggle in the darkness of life, but the presence of Christ in our lives gives us strength from beyond. It propels us to make the choice to give thanks in all circumstances. Rather than give in to despair, bitterness, regret or anger, we choose to become people of gratitude and that is what gives us hope!