My daughter sat on the floor with her dresser drawers open, surrounded by fabric casualties. She repeated the phrase that so many of us utter in the early morning hours–‘I don’t have anything to wear!’ Ankle deep in clothing she picked out at the store, she couldn’t find anything suitable to wear.
I scolded her with a less than patient tone. I pointed to three outfits poking out of her overstuffed drawers and left her pouting on the floor. It perplexed me how a child with so much could be so ungrateful for her abundance.
I went to the kitchen to make breakfast. A frown pulled at the corners of my mouth when I saw my broken dishwasher and unfashionable cabinets straight out of 1976. I longed for the gleam of a modern kitchen with appliances that actually work. I grumbled inwardly at what I considered to be sub-standard conditions. ‘I wish I had a nicer house,’ I thought.
I am guilty of the same pouting ingratitude my daughter demonstrated. While it may be cliche’ to say we have so many reasons to be thankful, it is powerfully true. I became convinced of that after spending just one week in a third world country. My dishwasher doesn’t work, but I don’t have to boil my water and treat it with bleach in order to hand wash my dishes. My cabinets are dated, but they are full of healthy food choices in amazing varieties.
How do we develop a thankful heart? Then answer is found in Colossians 3:15-16:
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (ESV)
Start with the peace of Christ. Our salvation is no small thing. Through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we can know an abundant and eternal life. If we believe Jesus’ death on the cross makes us right with God, we have a certain peace that no circumstance can diminish. This is the unshakable foundation of a thankful heart.
Spend time in God’s Word. The truths found in Scripture will encourage gratitude. Stories of rescue and redemption remind us of God’s promises and His faithfulness. We gain perspective through the constancy of God’s presence found in His Word.
Share your thankful thoughts with others. Instead of listing woes and worries, try sharing the good things you experience. Your ability to cultivate thankfulness in all circumstances will encourage others to do the same.
Sing praises to God. Studies show music has the ability to boost our moods. Songs that proclaim the goodness and greatness of our God can turn our hearts from griping to grateful. Turn on a Christian radio station or play your favorite worship playlist and sing it loud.
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Discuss: Do you find you complain more than you give thanks? Choose one or two steps toward a thankful heart to practice today. Put on music that inspires gratitude. Post a verse like Psalm 105:1 near your desk to remind you to give thanks.
Pray: Lord, we praise You and thank You for your faithfulness, generosity, grace, and love. Forgive us for the many complaints we have, as well as our lack of gratitude. Help us to develop thankful hearts. Use us to inspire gratitude in others.