I’ve learned quite a lot about thankfulness in the past year, and it’s changed my life. Whether in the middle of organized chaos or your mountain top season, thankfulness will turn your heart upside down, and you’ll realize God is actually fighting for you, that He keeps His promises, and that He sees you. We can be thankful because…
The Bible says to. This is our number one reason for living a sincerely thankful life. When our hearts are sincerely in awe of God’s character, we begin to realize that we don’t deserve the way He made through Jesus, which truly turns the attention to Him. Thankfulness is entirely about God, not ourselves. Our existence is to glorify God; our very nature of living our lives out for God is an act of thankfulness. It’s our pleasure to do the will of God, because we were made for it (Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Psalm 32:11).
It displaces fear. And when I say fear, I am also talking about its close relatives too (worry, anxiety, stress). When we are busy putting Philippians 4:6 into practice, we are spending more of our time trusting and relaxing in the faithfulness of God to carry us through. I want to be there. I used to fear trusting in God (ironic, yes) because it would put me out of my own control, and leave me available for plans and possessions to be ripped from my hands. On the other side of surrender, I can assure you that God is not out to get you, but He does in fact want to give you an abundance of life at a higher quality than what you’re currently clinging onto for dear life.
It increases your awareness of Him. Sometimes I feel like God has taken a lunch break on me; maybe He left and decided someone else’s prayers were more interesting. Or maybe He is right in front of me, holding my hand as I carefully maneuver through every moment. Thankfulness makes me aware of who God is: never changing and always faithful in the darkest, coldest, lowest valleys. It makes me aware that even in the middle of my sorrows, He provides peace, comfort, and joy; that is something to be thankful for at any time of life.
It destroys discontentment. Discontentment is a competitive, negative, and exhausting disease. It will nag at you, persuading you that nothing is good enough. A “nothing is good enough” mindset can apply to any area of our lives in more ways than one if we’re not careful to keep it in check. However, a thankful heart will recognize the blessings already around you, and you realize God is sustaining it all so you don’t need to strive to keep up. Living in discontentment will actually create a hurdle that keeps us from doing what God has called us to do (Philippians 2:14-15; 4:11). It becomes all about shifting our focus to God, rather than to the ever-changing stuff.
It creates peace. By being thankful, we are celebrating who God is. Philippians 4:7 says that when we combine prayer and thankfulness, peace will wash over our hearts. This peace goes beyond what we can even understand. Again, it is completely from God, and not anything we could do for ourselves. It removes anxiety, replaces it with peace, and opens the door for God to move in our lives because worrying in circles is long gone. His warm presence will be openly invited when you decide to be thankful.
It is surrender at its finest. “In everything,” is a little part I like to skip over sometimes in Philippians 4:6. But I want to help you out here: God is not asking you to be thankful for a bad day, week, or year. I’m personally not thankful for what I’m going through right now, but I am incredibly thankful at how God is holding my family and me up in the middle of the most outrageous time in our lives. He asks that in the middle of your toughest (or best) times, be thankful for all of it. It’s easy to question God’s plan sometimes. But just when you think He’s misguiding your steps, you realize He was graciously arranging you to fit His mold in a way you could’ve never dreamt up if you tried. By being thankful, we are also expectant for all that God has in store in seasons to come.
These are only a few reasons to be thankful, and your reasons will be beautifully personal to your own life. But I hope that when life rains on your parade, you have a little umbrella to keep yourself dry. Oh, and remember to use the umbrella when it’s sunny too.