Thanking God is a powerful practice. The psalms are full of lament and crying out to God, but are ultimately marked by an incredible overflow of thankfulness, no matter the circumstances. As we follow David’s journey through the pslams, it is clear that he didn’t have an easy life. He is running from his enemies, fighting with his own family, and struggling to trust God’s promise of kingship. Yet David praises God. As we approach the holidays, many people enter with both trepidation and excitement. This year may have been marked by loss and the holidays seem less than cheery. Or you may be anticipating a wondrous time of family, friends, and delicious food. Either way, as we approach a holiday specifically marked by giving thanks, we can know that no matter what life has brought our way, we can live lives of thanksgiving. When we do, we are characterized by three specific traits:

1. Contentment

In a country marked by having more, being content with what we have is a cultural abnormality. A life of gratitude means we are satisfied, content, and in awe of what the Lord has chosen to give us. We can take the hard and the good as both being allowed by His hand and intended for our ultimate good and His glory. In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul says he has learned the secret to contentment in all things. The thankful believer has found contentment and seeks the Lord’s strength to continually abide in that place.

2. Joy

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 charges us to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. How is this possible? The thankful believer is able to live a life of joy. Despite circumstances, they know that we live in a broken world, have a good Savior, and this world is not our home. Their joy is contagious and influences those around them, which in turn points people to Jesus. When we remember Jesus is with us, we can give thanks and count it all joy (James 1:2

3. Peace

A life of thanksgiving is a life at peace. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Thankfulness chases away anxiety, which then breeds peace. Those who have peace do not stumble (Psalm 119:165). They trust God fully, which leads them to thank Him more.

Contentment, joy, and peace all create a thankful heart. The more we are thankful, the more we are marked by those three characteristics. In a world characterized by striving which can lead to stress and a drive to get ahead, a person marked by a grateful heart stands out. People will know your God. You will want to know your God more. And ultimately, the Lord is glorified.