Thankfulness

 If I’m being honest, when I was asked to write a post about thankfulness, I was hesitant. This is something I’ve only recently recognized the power of. It’s relatively new in my life, and I felt maybe I wouldn’t have enough to say on the subject.

However, being that it’s a fresh concept in my life, I feel the weight of its significance wholeheartedly. This doesn’t mean I’ve never expressed gratitude before, but it has taken on new meaning as a daily ritual.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s the time of year when gratitude is brought to the forefront of everyone’s minds. But what about the rest of the year?

Until recently, I have been guilty of ‘seasonal thanksgiving’. Because of this, I never fully understood the power of gratitude. I was never able to see it do great work in my life. Over the past couple months, I’ve been humbled and stretched. Every day is just a little harder, and a little longer. It’s a season where God is really bringing my family the growth we need. With that, there are a lot of ‘growing pains’. Whatever season God has you in, ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

One mistake I think a lot of us make, myself included, is comparative thankfulness. Sometimes it’s easier to be thankful when we compare ourselves to other people, and what their lives look like. I don’t believe this is the kind of gratitude God is calling us to. God wants us to see His blessings in our life for what they are, and not at the expense of others. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says, ‘Now there is great gain in godliness, with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.’

After reading this verse, and knowing I had so much more than food and clothing, everything has turned into a blessing. Because it is! There’s no need to look to others to gauge how much I should be grateful for when everything God gives us is good. Sometimes our expectations for what we ‘need’ become so high that it can feel like we don’t have anything we ‘want’.

On that note, it isn’t wrong to aspire to greater things, or desire more in our life, but if our aspirations or desires are keeping us from appreciating what we already have, we should ask ourselves if we would really appreciate having more.

Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation of all abundance.

What has really brought strength and added joy to my life is practicing gratitude. I recently discovered that being thankful causes your entire mind to shift. As someone who has struggled with depression for most of my life, I can confidently say there is no better medicine. I saw a wonderful quote that read, ‘What consumes your mind, controls your life’. If we’re giving our minds over to gratitude, we will look at our life and see abundance, joy, and peace. On the other hand, if our focus is on all we don’t have, we will see bitterness, anxiety and depression.

It can be easy to give ourselves over to negative thinking. When life gets hard, and things aren’t going the way we hope, our faith is shaken, and thankfulness can be the first thing to go. That is exactly where the devil wants God’s people. He wants us weakened by the world, hopeless, and ready to give in. 1 Timothy 4:4-5 says, ‘For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.’ Everything in our life can become a God thing. When we lean into Him, and let God take control, He will undoubtedly give us something to be thankful for.

A grateful mindset requires hard work to maintain, but after seriously putting it into practice, I can say it does get easier. Thankfulness is contagious, because it brings joy. It also encourages generosity, because when you view your life with abundance, you see just how much you have to give. ‘You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God’ (2 Corinthians 9:11).

Wherever your life is right now, I encourage you to give yourself over to gratitude. God is too generous to not pour blessings out on us in the hardest, or the happiest of times. Let’s keep our minds on things above, and allow our lives to look as full as they really are.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-        Maggie Isaac