Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
Giving thanks always for all things unto God (Ephesians 5:20).
Ever have one of those days when, deep down, you feel like you shouldn’t have gotten out of bed?
It’s a bad day and you know it.
The kind of day where you just know that everything’s going to go wrong, even before it happens; and so you get yourself started off with your deepest growl or with your most sarcastic remark and brace for the worst.
Ever had a day like that?
Most of us have.
But wouldn’t it be nice if there were some way that we could stop-action life, like a video recorder, and rewind it and start all over? Instant replay. “Do another take,” as they say in television production.
But of course we can’t. Living is for real. We get only one take at any given moment and what we do – and what we say – and how we think – and how we behave goes into the record book and there’s just no changing it. No playing the scene over.
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to have fewer bad moments than others? And, in the New Testament, there is a scripture where Paul openly declares, I have learned in whatsoever circumstance I am to be content (Philippians 4:11).
Just imagine! Contented. No matter the circumstances. At peace. No matter what’s happening.
Ahhh! That’s living at its very finest.
This time of year many of us come to a new appreciation of God’s goodness. Harvests are in. Autumn is upon us. There’s a snap in the air, and for many of us, and all around us, an emphasis upon Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving. That’s an expression of the heart through the mouth.
But what about a new term this year? A new concept. A new lifestyle year ‘round.
“Thanksliving.” It’s completely possible within the realm of these three principles:
1.) Thanksliving can become a lifestyle.
But it is a learned response.
Paul said, I have learned in whatsoever circumstances I am, therewith to be content.
David, the Psalmist learned it and declared, I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth (Psalm 34:1).
Paul, the Apostle encourages you and me, Giving thanks always and in all things unto God (Ephesians 5:20).
Praising the Lord is the will of God for you and me. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you (Ephesians 5:20 MLV).
Remember that Andrae` Crouch song from the 1980’s titled, “Through it All?”
“I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
And I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through.”
2. Thanksliving can only be learned
Life isn’t easy or automatic. Life is a struggle, a learning process. Life isn’t for the careless to master. It isn’t for the foolish to direct. It is for those who, through faith, follow in the steps of Jesus and who learn as He did the wonderful joys of triumph in spite of pain.
Thanksliving isn’t a kindergarten course.
Thanksliving isn’t something that can be ordered in the mail and received by overnight delivery.
Thanksliving isn’t something we can learn instantly from a website.
Thanksliving can become an exciting lifestyle for you and me as we learn it in life’s schoolroom. God’s Holy Spirit is the instructor, and you and I are the students. We determine the speed with which we learn and we make our own choices.
But some of us learn so slowly. We ignore the lessons. We skip the classes and still wonder why it is we struggle so hard; why it is we circle around and pass through the same fires, walk over the same rough roads again and again. The question is, When will we ever really learn?
Not only is thanksliving an available lifestyle, and not only is thanksliving something to be learned, but we should also remember this principle:
3. Thanksliving must come in spite of negative circumstances
Thanksliving happens as a lifestyle even when we are keenly aware of the dark circumstances and the disappointments of negative realities.
As a pastor in Lakeland, Florida years ago I recall walking into the office of a successful businessman who ran a high-stress company. There on his desk was a printed motto which read “Praise the Lord Anyhow!”
That’s the spirit of Thanksliving!
In the good times, praise His Name.
In the bad times, do the same!
Despite every negative reality, praise the Lord anyhow!
Let everything that hath breath, praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6).
Centuries ago, Cicero called gratitude “the mother of all virtues.”
Helen Keller was born blind and deaf, and was yet able to say, I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.
We must see things in perspective. We must hold life up to the light of eternity. And held there, against the backdrop of Calvary, we can say with the Apostle Paul, For we reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us
Thanksliving is an attitude – an attitude of gratitude that must be cultivated despite every circumstance.
Think about it.
And if you’ll think, then you’ll thank.