Pam sat in the small auditorium eagerly waiting to hear the main speaker at the church’s women’s retreat. The theme of the retreat was “Living a Grateful Life” and she desperately wanted help in understanding how to live daily with a grateful attitude. Somehow over the last several years her attitude toward life in general and her family specifically had become negative. Pam knew her negative attitude was damaging her most precious relationships and that it wasn’t honoring God. With her whole heart she desired to change, but it was difficult establishing a new way of thinking.
The speaker began. “Lately I’ve been thinking about how important the act of being grateful is and how it can effect our everyday lives. Learning to live a grateful life is such an important goal that when I type “being grateful” into the Amazon search box the results show 22,226 titles concerning this topic. The Bible has more than 68 verses that specifically address being grateful or thankful to God for and in all our circumstances. Pam thought, “68 verses! I didn’t realize how important being grateful was to God.”
The speaker continued. “Why is it important to God that we Christians discipline ourselves in having a grateful spirit? I think it’s because the act of being thankful focuses our minds on God, and His faithful hand of provision. It puts the emphases on God and diminishes the frustration of our daily trials. Practicing a grateful attitude helps us see and appreciate the many blessings God has given us, even when the blessings turn into momentary trials. ”Pam identified with this last statement; so many things she’d once considered a blessing had become trials in her life.
The speaker went on. “A grateful attitude is a powerful attitude because it can change our body language, tone of voice, thought pattern, and interaction with others. A grateful attitude increases our energy and inspires those around us. A grateful attitude will help keep us mindful of the fact that we are blessed by God and he loves us mightily. A grateful attitude may not change our situation or circumstances, but it will help give us strength while going through them and make our days much more enjoyable.” Pam wanted to be grateful; she wanted to be a blessing to others.
Next the speaker addressed the damaging effects of a negative attitude. “On the other hand a negative attitude will have the opposite effect. It will drain our energy, change our body language, tone of voice, thought pattern, and interaction with others, for the worse. And it will discourage those around you. A negative attitude will hinder our prayer life and Bible reading. That’s why as Christians it’s imperative that we discipline ourselves daily to have a grateful attitude.” Pam felt like the speaker was describing her and felt deep pain within her spirit. She prayed for God’s forgiveness.
Concluding, the speaker addressed specifically how a God honoring attitude of gratefulness impacts the family. “Sometimes our greatest blessings can also be our greatest struggles. For example our families are indeed a great blessing. However, when our husband’s idiosyncrasies start bugging us or when the children are whining, fighting, and generally driving us crazy, they can feel more like a curse than a blessing. This is when we need to practice the discipline of being grateful instead of giving in to negative thoughts about our loved ones. If we allow that initial negative thought to take root in our minds, it can quickly grow and before long our annoyance with a few little quirks becomes the filter through which we see our spouses or children. That’s why we need to discipline our minds to be thankful to God for the many blessings He has given us including our families instead of dwelling on our irritation with them. When we choose to do this it will bring our negative thoughts into captivity and release ourselves to love as God has instructed us to love.”
That’s what Pam wanted, to honor God by disciplining her mind to be grateful, enabling her to love as God intended. The speaker passed out a list of Bible verses about gratefulness, Pam read them and determined to use them as her daily guide to disciplining her mind to be grateful daily.
Psalm 100: 1-5 (A Psalm for giving thanks.) Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippian 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Debora Shelford Hobbs