Cultivate (cul*ti*vate): to improve or develop by careful attention, training, or study.
Have you ever noticed that our minds naturally focus on the negative, on the worries, on the complaints. To cultivate an attitude of gratitude and a heart of thankfulness takes awareness and training. Over and over in the Bible it talks about living in thankfulness. Thankfulness is not meant to be a one day a year holiday, we are called to live in continual thankfulness.
Giving thanks in all things is God’s will for us. Now, please do not get that confused with giving thanks for everything. There are bad things, evil things in this world. God does not want us to be thankful for cancer, for mass shootings, for the fires that are burning in California and destroying communities, for orphans. Those things are also not God’s will. Evil things come from a “my will” stance. But we can be so thankful that God can turn (at least my) stupid mistakes into good. He is bigger than my mistakes, bigger than my imperfections and can turn any bad choice I have made into good if I lean into Him and trust him in faith. God still loves me even when I mess up and I can be thankful for that.
Can anyone relate with the holidays being hard? Some of you are going through the most unimaginable hurt and pain right now. You may have lost a loved one this year that the holidays stir up all sorts of memories and an empty spot at a table where the person should have been. I lost my grandma three years ago and the first holidays she was not here with us were HARD. Three years later, they are still hard and make me miss her terribly. She lost her battle with cancer right before Thanksgiving and she loved the holidays so anywhere I looked there was a reminder of her. But looking back, we really leaned in together as a family. Not only did we lean in, others leaned in as well. Extended family, family friends, people showed support and for that I can be grateful. Some of you are currently going through unimaginable hurt and sadness and I am so sorry for that. If you need prayers I will pray for you. But please, don’t grow a seed of bitterness, instead, lean into God and his goodness and thank him for loving you through this, that He will not leave you, and for his plan that is good.
In the sake of being honest…here is a hard verse for me to read…
This is such a black and white verse with zero room for self-interpretation. Do not complain or argue. AHHH! This verse is so hard for me because although I am an optimist and I try to see the glass half full, this verse makes it pretty clear to NEVER complain or argue. Noted God! Thank goodness He knows I am a work in progress. Have you ever met those people that never complain, that never grumble, they just shine. I need to be more like those people. They show true thankfulness to God. And they do just stand out like the stars in the sky. They have a cultivated heart for thankfulness and gratitude.
So how do we do it? How do we show Thanksgiving every day of the year? Well, I thought of a couple of things that I am going to start doing and I challenge you to do them too. Let’s live like Jesus!
- Journal…I have had a gratitude journal before and have slipped away from doing it. Journaling helps me slow down and connect to my thoughts. It helps me have a deeper understanding. It makes me more mindful and slow down. Having a gratitude journal also allows me to look back on periods of time and see God’s hand in our lives.
- Worship…When I am getting ready for work in the morning I listen to “Sang on Sunday” playlist on Spotify and it sets my heart in the right direction for the day. Worship focuses us on what God has done for us, what He means to us and allows us to express how we feel about Him.
- Say “thank you”…and not just in passing. “Thank you for opening the door.” You can bless people by genuinely thanking them, looking then in the eyes and giving a kind smile. Think about how your spouse, kids, coworkers, boss, strangers will feel when we start appreciating them. This really raises their value. We all need massive amounts of encouragement so start being a voice!
- Serve others…we are all called to minister to others. This could be opening the door for others, buying coffee for someone, appreciating others. Your ministry could be encouragement or appreciation.
Why should we give thanks?
- Giving thanks keeps me in the center of God’s will.
- It makes me better, not bitter. Let that bitterness go my friends!
- It defeats the Devil…he knows your buttons, he loves it when we get jealous, angry, bitter, or greedy. These feelings get us away from God. If we say “thank you God” and don’t give the Devil the reaction he wants, he stops coming after us in that way. Ever notice how a certain someone just shows up? Or certain problems just keep happening? Start thanking God for the opportunity to turn to him in those moments.
- It causes miracles…thanking God in faith (in advance) shows you trust God in all things.
- It develops faith…when life sucks and everything is falling apart thank God for his unconditional love and support. This is an evidence of trust. Anyone can thank God when things are going right.
If you need some words to say to God to show him thanks in a tough spot in your life, say something along these lines…
“God I trust you even through this. I trust you to bring something good out of this. You know the plans for my life. Your love for me is unconditional and without limits. Thank you. Amen”
How do you cultivate your attitude of gratitude and thankfulness? I would love to hear! Thank you for reading!