“Gratitude is truly my life preserver. Even in the most turbulent waters, choosing gratitude rescues me from myself and my runaway emotions. It buoys me on the grace of God and keeps me from drowning in what otherwise would be my natural bent toward doubt, negativity, discouragement, and anxiety. Over time, choosing gratitude means choosing joy…” – Nancy Leigh Demoss
We live in the most prosperous nation on the earth. The average family is drowning in abundance, and yet we remain the unhappiest of people. A church leader was visiting the United States from India who had come to the States to study. A gentleman asked what he thought of Americans, to which his guest responded – in polite, Asian style – “Do you want me to be honest?” “Yes, I do,” responded the gentleman. But who could really be ready for this: “You have no idea how much you have,” the man said, “and yet you always complain.”
This has hit home to me as I have recently read it retold in Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh Demoss. Through my recent struggles with insomnia, God has been teaching me many lessons. This has been one of them. I confess…I am a whiner. I complain when I am tired, when the children don’t behave, when my husband doesn’t arrive on time from work and dinner gets cold. It is so easy to focus on the problems, the struggles, the challenges in our lives, rather than actively striving to choose gratitude. It does not happen by chance. It is not acquired in a moment. It is the fruit of a thousand choices.
Why is it important to cultivate an atmosphere of thankfulness in our families?
I love what Barbara Rainey shares: “Because God commands it and we need it. Gratitude takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them back on the giver of all good things, even those things we perceive as bad or unpleasant. Most American families are drowning in abundance and as a result we have the most self absorbed culture ever. The gift of prosperity does not usher in the response of gratitude as one would imagine. Instead it feeds the roots of narcissism and entitlement. Children who tend to be selfish anyway must be trained in giving thanks. We as adults must discipline ourselves in gratitude. It is not natural. But it is necessary as believers if we are to please God and make any kind of impact on our culture. It is the antidote to insanity. It is the pathway to peace. It is the key to a gracious life. It is the doorway by which even unbelievers cope with the fragility of life because it acknowledges faith in the one who rules.”
Throughout Scripture we see the command issued again and again. “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”(Eph. 5:20-21). “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
In every situation...prayer + thanksgiving = peace. Thankfulness results in joy! When we wake up in the morning after a rough night of sleep, children that kept us up, or a long to-do list that bombards our minds for the day, we have one choice to make. We can whine or we can worship! Whining results in self-centered discouragement and depression. Worship results in finding true joy in our Savior!
My prayer and goal for my spiritual life this year: to become a radically thankful woman. I want to be known as a woman who is joyful, peacefully rested in my Savior, and always expressing thankfulness to others. I want to be filled every day with His joy, so that others who see me would have a glimpse of God – in my words, in my affection, in my writing, in disappointments and trials, and even in everyday tasks.
How will I make this a habit in my life?
- Complete the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge each month (listed in the back of Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh Demoss or available for download here). You cannot have too much repetition when it comes to this!
- Write 1-2 handwritten thank you notes each week. This is a means of cultivating thankfulness and ministering to others at the same time. Who in your family, church, or even your past have blessed your life for which you have never expressed thankfulness?
- Begin each day by adding 5 things to my “Blessings” List (also could be two lists titled ‘Gifts from God’ and ‘Gifts from Others’), and thanking the Lord for them. I have this list in my journal to which I refer each day. Once you get started there is no end to the numerous blessings we are recipients of daily.
- Memorize Psalms 103. Meditating on this passage has brought such encouragement to my life.
Will you join me in cultivating a thankful joyful heart? I believe this is key to strengthening and blessing our families and those around us. Can you see your marriage blossom when you express your thankfulness to your man giving him the respect he desperately needs? Can you see children that desire to follow hard after Christ because their mama has found her satisfaction in Him first? Can you see neighborhoods transformed because they see your joyful countenance and cannot help but ask what makes you smile?
Sally Clarkson, in her new book, Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy, says it so well in defining the goal: “I renewed my decision…that joy would be my goal, that I would look everywhere I go for God’s touch, his shadow, his signature. I would celebrate the inner reality of his spirit, rather than live as a victim of circumstances in my outward reality.”
Sally’s book is another great title on this subject that I am just diving into and loving already!
“Thankfulness puts us in God’s living room. It paves the way to His presence.” - Nancy Leigh Demoss
“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Things to Be Thankful For
Originally published at Revive Our Hearts
- Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.
- Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.
- Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you’re employed.
- Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.
- Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.
- Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.
- Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means you can walk.
- Be thankful for the lady who sings off-key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.
- Be thankful when people complain about the government, because it means we have freedom of speech.
- Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means you’re alive.
A Week of Thanksgiving – Developing the habit of thankfulness may require some practice! Here are some practical suggestions for devoting one week to practicing thankfulness.
Blessings of Thorns: Family Devotional Plan – This creative family devotional plan corresponds with the “Blessings of Thorns” radio series and CD drama, and will provide your family with an unforgettable Thanksgiving experience together.
Growing in Gratitude: A 30 Day Challenge – Cultivate a heart of gratitude through this 30 Day challenge. Awesome resource to accompany your devotions.