I love Fall. I love everything about it; from the leaves turning colors, wearing comfy sweaters, the beginning of the holiday season, pumpkin patches, and bonfires to name a few. As we begin this time of year there are many expressions of gratitude, especially as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. While Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and give thanks, I am challenged and reminded that this is not something that should be done just once a year.
Gratitude is an expression of the heart of being thankful and showing appreciation. I know as I look back over my year, I have a lot of gratitude to express to many people in my life, but especially to God. Even in the struggle, pain, and heartache, I can find ways to be thankful. The point is that a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving can often shift attitudes, perspectives, and circumstances. Someone once said to me that the antidote for discontentment is gratitude. It has always stuck with me as a reminder that when life doesn’t go as I planned and things are hard, I always have something to be grateful for. It shifts my attention from what is going on to what I already have.
Does this mean that gratitude wipes away all the pain, heartache, and struggle? By no means! Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I love this verse because it reminds me that I can go to God with any situation, but to do so with a thankful heart. The promise is that when I bring my prayers and petitions to Him with thankfulness, I can have a peace beyond my understanding. This means I can have peace in every circumstance, no matter what it looks like. I don’t know about you, but if I can give my struggles to the Lord, along with my grateful heart, and receive a complete peace, then sign me up!
I meet every day with people who are hurting and struggling. While being grateful isn’t the only remedy, it can have a profound impact when the focus shifts off of the circumstance and onto thanksgiving. One suggestion I will often give is to keep a daily gratitude journal. Keeping a consistent journal often means getting creative with what one is thankful for. I have seen it begin to soften hearts, change attitudes, and shift perspectives even though the hardship or struggle has not passed.
I encourage you as this time of year approaches to shift your view from your circumstances to one of gratitude and thanksgiving. This is the perfect time to begin and to hopefully continue all year through to express gratitude to God and to the people in your life.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18