Thanksgiving is a week away. Menus are in the works. Grocery stores are stocked. Plans are made. Maybe your family or friends like to go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for. Regardless of this time to focus on being thankful, we as believers can cultivate hearts that practice gratitude all year long. It takes intentionality and discipline.
- Count your blessings
Grateful people make a habit of counting their blessings. Whether that’s beginning the day with thinking through 10 things they are thankful for, using a gratitude journal, or making a habit of writing notes or verbally practicing gratitude, grateful people are marked by consistency. It’s easy to stress over schedules, lists, obligations, and relationships. Maybe you are even wrestling with this as we roll into the holidays. But counting our blessings pulls our minds from temporal circumstances to focus on what God has provided. It turns our focus from “not enough” to “more than enough.”
- Spend time around positive people.
Spending time with people who are negative or constantly complaining is toxic. It discourages and distracts. But spending time with positive, grateful people is uplifting. It motivates, encourages, and creates drive. It is what believers in Christ should focus on. Grateful people know that everything they have and every opportunity given comes only from the Lord. They know they are not entitled to anything, nor did they earn anything they currently possess. These people are marked by humility, and it is infectious. Spending time with people marked by grateful hearts will remind you to be grateful, too.
- Remember God’s faithfulness.
Any time we see the Israelites complain in the Old Testament, we can track their attitudes to a lack of gratitude and remembrance of God’s past faithfulness. A heart marked by gratitude sees and actively remembers God’s faithfulness in the past, practices thankfulness in the present, and eagerly anticipates how God will choose to move in the future. A heart focused on the faithfulness of God doesn’t see anything to complain about. Instead, that person sees suffering as coming from God’s hand as well. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). Suffering produces perseverance, which produces character and then hope. And that hope makes us grateful. We can thank the Lord in everything because we know He is faithful and He is working it all for good.
As you whip up your holiday recipes, don’t forget the recipe for thankfulness: Count your blessings + spend time around positive people + remember God’s faithfulness = a thankful heart. Happy Thanksgiving!