Have you noticed how hard it is to be thankful when you really aren’t thankful?
Oh, we might think that we are doing a good job convincing ourselves that we are thankful but deep down we know that we really aren’t thankful. We might think that we are doing a good job convincing those around us that we are thankful but in reality they probably know that we are struggling and we really aren’t thankful. We probably even think at times that we can convince God that we are thankful, when we are not, but He cannot be deceived – He knows better.
Ask yourself, go ahead be completely honest: Are you thankful? Is gratefulness one of your character traits? Would your spouse or children or close friends describe you as a thankful, grateful person? Most of us probably don’t need to ask others about it. We already know. For most of us it’s probably a struggle, at least at some points in our lives. For some of us, it’s a struggle all the time; at least it seems to be a struggle all the time.
Have you been around people who are genuinely thankful and grateful?
People who are genuinely thankful are encouraging to be around. Their gratitude seems to be contagious. When you are around people like this your own problems and concerns seem to be lessened. These folks seem to have an ability to keep everything in life in perspective and there is something about them that makes you know that they are genuine -–they aren’t faking it. When around people like this you might even say to yourself: ‘I really should be more thankful and grateful. These genuinely thankful people are a lot of fun to be around!’
What is it about thankful grateful people that makes them different?
I have made some observations, in my 50 years, about genuine thankful, grateful people. See if these things have been your observations as well.
- Sincerely thankful, grateful people have a maturity about them that is attractive and inviting. This maturity seems to have produced a depth of character that is unknown to ungrateful people.
- Sincerely thankful, grateful people have a sense of wisdom to their character. They seem to have a ‘bigger picture of life’ perspective. They don’t wallow in the ‘mole hills’ they take more of a ‘ mountain view ’.
- Sincerely thankful, grateful people have other character traits that seem to go along with thankfulness. They seem to be more patient in the face of hardships. They seem to be slow to become angry when things don’t go their way. They seem to have more understanding toward others as they go through difficulties in life.
- Sincerely thankful, grateful people seem to have an ability to lift you up to higher planes of gratefulness. Sometimes just their presence seems to invoke a thankful heart in others.
- Almost across the board, sincerely thankful people know what it means to suffer, they have been through suffering and hardships and they know the reality of pain, disappointment and true heartache. Yet these painful experiences have not produce bitterness or resentment, as it does in others, but it’s produced a deep sincere unmistakable gratefulness and spiritual refinement unknown in those who have responded wrongly to hardship.
(I appreciate being around folks like this although it’s personally humbling to be around genuinely grateful people. Although I am encouraged and ‘built up’ when I am around them, I am often reminded of my own lack of genuine mature gratefulness and thankfulness in my own life.)
Is there a fast way to be grateful?
I am not aware of a ‘fast way’ to be grateful. Genuine gratefulness takes time, maturity, wisdom. It takes developing a proper perspective to the hard places in life. It takes a godly attitude toward trials and tribulations. It takes a ‘pressing in’ to know Jesus Christ and His Gospel. It takes personal honesty and true repentance from our sin. In short, we actually cannot ‘quickly’ produce gratefulness in our own strength. God is the one that produces genuine thankfulness and gratefulness in us as we grow in our relationship with Him. Have you begun your relationship with God through Jesus? Have you turned from your sin and turned to Him for forgiveness and cleansing? Have you been set free from the bondage of sin and selfishness? If you have come to Jesus and are fully relying on what He has done for you then you are on the right path to be a thankful, grateful person. Only from this viewpoint, of being forgiven and set free from sin, can we begin to be truly genuine thankful people. And as we grow in our understanding and relationship with God our genuine gratefulness and thankfulness will also grow. And then we can begin to see the Lord help us to do as He tells us to do in the Bible:
“… in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God inChrist Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit …” 1 Thes. 5:18-19
Isn't it interesting that right after we are told to give thanks in everything that then God tells us not to quench the Spirit? It made me wonder how many times I may have quenched His Spirit by my lack of thankfulness - in everything.
Sincerely, grateful to God for His forgiveness given in Christ, and thankful for your encouragement, Mark Renaud