Choosing Gratitude

Brief introduction: This article is about choosing gratitude over complaining.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

The sunlight spills through my window brightening my room, I hear the birds filling the air with their melodies, and my cat is purring on my lap. Praise fills my heart as I acknowledge these things as gifts from our loving God.

It is so easy to focus our thoughts on complaints. Everyone has circumstances which can lead to complaining; however, I have learned throughout the years that complaining only wastes time and causes my relationship with God to suffer. Plus, I miss out on enjoying the blessings that are already present. I wish I could take back all of the time I have wasted focusing on my problems rather than on the healing and helping nature of our Savior.

It is interesting how one negative event during the day can overshadow all of the positives. The best solution for negative experiences is to choose to be thankful. Thankfulness a choice. Here are some examples:

Complaint: “Ugh, my arm hurts. My day is ruined.”

Thankfulness: “Lord, even though my arm hurts, I am thankful that I even have an arm! I’m thankful that I can use this arm to glorify you!”

Complaint: “I’m so upset because I didn’t get the job that I really wanted… Nothing works in my favor.”

Thankfulness: “Thank you, Lord, for choosing to close that door. I know you have better plans for me.”

Complaint: “I’m so tired of barely making it financially. I wish I had more money. Why are others more blessed?”

Thankfulness: “Jesus, you taught us to pray ‘Give us today our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11 NIV). You will give us enough to survive on if we come to you. I thank you that you’re faithful to your promises and that I can give my worries to you.”

These are just a few complaints that I have heard uttered, but any complaint can be turned into a thank you.

I used to believe that a thankful spirit meant I needed to always have a sunny demeanor or zen-like attitude. In fact, my inner voice would accuse me of ungratefulness each time I felt a complaint surface. Nevertheless, our gracious Lord understands that there are times when we struggle with possessing a thankful attitude. Nevertheless, He expects us to come to Him, give thanks, and to place our trust in Him to help us through our trials.

The Lord cares about our life circumstances and emotional health. He understands when we are hurting or upset about something, and like a loving Father, He is always there for us. It is human nature to complain and grumble, but like the Israelites in the desert, doing so stems from a lack of trust in God.

If you’re ever at a loss for reasons to exhibit a thankful attitude, then focus on the many characteristics and promises of God! He is loving, kind, just, faithful, merciful, and the list of His positive characteristics are vast. Just open the book of Psalms and read the many descriptions of our Lord’s greatness! Focusing on God and His faithful promises gives us many reasons for thankfulness.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:29 NLT


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