The students at our church are very familiar with something that we call “Thankful Things.”
“Thankful Things” is simply when each of us takes a portion of our prayer time to share and thank God for one thing from the week. It can be really small or really big, something obvious or something we could easily forget.
I started this habit of “Thankful Things” with them because gratitude is often underestimated and overlooked. And if we truly understood the power of gratitude it could change our hearts in ways we’d never expect.
When I was a teenager, I remember a particularly difficult time in my life. I was feeling alone and broken and wrestling with things like depression and anxiety. During this specific time, I remember asking God what in the world I was supposed to do. Because I wanted to serve Him, I wanted to glorify Him, and I wanted to praise Him in the middle of this. But my feelings weren’t changing and I didn’t know how to stop feeling what I was feeling. I didn’t know how to get my current situation to change.
And that’s when God brought 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in my path over and over.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Then I started learning a very important lesson about being thankful. Here’s the secret: Gratitude may not change your current circumstances, but it definitely will change your current perspective.
Because gratitude shifts our perspective off ourselves or our current situation and it shifts our perspective onto who God is and the ways He chooses to bless us, even in the midst of the most difficult situations.
Our circumstances won’t always feel good, but when we choose to look for the good anyway, we’re reminded of God’s great goodness to us. We might still feel broken and we might still feel sad, in fact, sometimes we most likely will still feel that way. Choosing to be grateful might not change our feelings at all.
But God is greater than our feelings. And His goodness is greater than our feelings or our circumstances.
Because He is so good, I know I can find something to be thankful for, no matter the situation. When walking through my struggle with chronic pain and illness, I had to look harder for the good gifts God still had for me there, but I found them when I chose to be thankful for things like pain medicine or doctors. And when wrestling with depression or anxiety I had to ultimately look to the greatest gifts God has ever given me and remember than any season I am walking through I can be grateful that none of it can ever separate me from His love for me.
Wherever you find yourself this week or whatever situation you find yourself in, remember that gratitude can change your attitude. And while nothing around you might change, everything inside your heart can change and remember what is most important.
What are you thankful for today?