How To Be Genuinely Grateful and Reap the Benefits

Sunset on the water

My dear readers, for the first post of the year, I want to start 2024 with gratitude. Who’s with me? (•◡•) /

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As much as I love the Word of God, this is a difficult verse. Give thanks in everything?

I can easily be grateful for the good things in my life. But what about extremely hard times?

The Biblical Teaching of Gratitude

I think 1 Thessalonians 5:18 has been commonly misinterpreted. People consider it to be a command to give thanks for everything, whether it’s a major tragedy or a minor annoyance.

This misinterpretation leads to toxic positivity, in which we deny any negative feelings and only look at the bright side. Suppressing our emotions and ignoring the severity of the situation only creates more problems.

Looking more closely at the verse, we see that it doesn’t say to give thanks for everything. It says, “In everything give thanks.” This means to give thanks in the midst of our troubles.

But how can we give thanks in everything, good or bad? The answer is that while our circumstances may fluctuate from terrific to traumatic, we give thanks to God, whose goodness, love and mercy remain the same. (See Psalm 136.) For this reason, we trust Him in our hardships.

Jesus demonstrated this when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t thank God the Father for the suffering He was about to endure. In fact, He asked God to take it away if possible. However, He trusted God’s sovereignty, character, and plan. (See Matthew 26:36-46.)

In Matthew 14:22-31, we read about how Jesus taught Peter the importance of trusting God. He miraculously enabled Peter to walk on water, but then Peter started sinking when his focus shifted from Jesus to the strong wind. Jesus saved him and addressed his lack of faith.

In the same way, we need to keep our eyes on God and trust Him throughout our lives. And as we focus on His steadfast faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:13), we become grateful. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

The Benefits of Gratitude

Woman smiling and holding a mug.

Gratitude is actually good for our wellbeing because it has a significant positive effect on our mental health. Expressing appreciation toward God and others lifts our mood. It can also help prevent resentment.

Gratefully remembering what God has done for us in the past decreases our anxiety about our present situation. Thus, gratitude encourages us in hard times.

Furthermore, when we pray to God about our circumstances, we also thank Him because we trust that He has our best interest at heart. Doing so increases our peace of mind. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7.)

Gratitude is beneficial for children too. When we teach and model a grateful attitude, then sibling rivalry, selfishness, and jealousy decrease.

How to Practice Gratitude

The following are a few ways to practice an attitude of gratitude:

In conclusion, God thought of each one of us before we were born, and He created us with love (Psalm 139:13; Jeremiah 1:5; Jeremiah 31:3). Therefore, regardless of our circumstances, we’re thankful for His everlasting love and we trust in His faithfulness. (◡‿◡✿)

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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