My natural, sin-infused outlook on life tends to be one of negativity. I don’t naturally see the blessings of everyday life; I tend to focus on the problems that are all around me. While I may not verbally complain all the time, my mental state is not one of thanksgiving.
This is easy to do, isn’t it? We get into this mindset that our lives are supposed to go a certain way. Whether we realize it or not, we approach our day as if we deserve a clean and easy life. Does scripture say we deserve this? Certainly not! Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” We are all sinners, and deserve death. Yet, God through Christ showed us such great mercy to save us from our sins and death! This alone is reason to have overflowing gratitude.
But yet, did God stop only with Christ? No! God gives Christians and non-Christians alike unbelievable common graces. We’re given ways to provide for our family, the ability to taste delicious food, beautiful scenery, and much, much more. As God’s children, he gives us the gift of a relationship with him! We get to communicate with the very God of the universe through prayer and by reading his word.
When we look at each day and realize what we deserve compared to what Christ has given us, there is nothing we can do but have extreme gratitude. Yes, life is unfair, and praise God that it is! If life were fair, we would only have death.
Gratitude and joy, like so many of the other practices of the Christian life, take prayer and practice. We must first ask God directly for him to give us a heart of gratitude for all the good gifts that he’s given us. Then, we must be intentional. God gives us the tools, and then we put those tools into action.
A very simple way to start becoming intentional in gratitude is to set a number goal for yourself every day. My planner has a simple spot with four lines at the bottom to write down what you were thankful for that day (pictured below). You could start with just four things and work up from there; in fact, I think if you’re intentionally looking for four, you’ll find abundantly more than that as you go about your day.
I encourage you to also look beyond just the big things. For instance, every single day, I’m thankful for my house, my family, my car, and my friends. However, there are day-specific things that can grow you in this practice more than just looking at the big things. For instance, we moved into a new house this past Saturday. At the end of the night, everyone who helped us was gathered around our kitchen table laughing and eating pizza. In that moment, I was particularly grateful for friendship and fellowship with those particular brothers and sisters in Christ.
Some days, it will be more simple than that. Like today, I am so grateful for those portable baby food pouches that you can get for 74 cents at Aldi. We had a 9am appointment, and wouldn’t have made it if I had to feed Trippe at home this morning.
As Christians, we are called to a spirit of gratitude because God has given us exponentially more than we deserve. Start taking time to pray for gratitude and to be intentional about praising him for the great gifts he’s given. Over time, like any habit, you will see your mindset shift and heart start to change towards the things you do every day.
“In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)