Spiritually Speaking: Attitude of Gratitude

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.”

In case you missed it, Psalm 107:21-22 (KJV) calls thanksgiving a sacrifice–in other words, it isn’t an easy task.

If it was, do you think it would be requested so many times in the scriptures as a reminder?

No one questions why blessings flow abundantly for no reason at times. When they stop coming or are taken away, however, our disgruntled complaints rise up immediately.

We don’t notice the flower garden God has planted for us until the rain comes and destroys them; we often neglect to admire the colors in a sunrise until we wake up to overcast skies and cast a scornful glare their way.

Maybe we see it as good luck those mornings we sleep past the alarm clock but still have enough time to prepare for the day, or we count it chance that all the lights on our way to work turn green for us to arrive on time.

Yet, when we aren’t awakened in good time and when every car we drive behind is painfully put-putting, we get irritated and all in a huff. Perhaps we even get to work or wherever we are headed and tell everyone how badly our morning has already gone. 

We may not say it directly but let’s face it: In those quick, frustrating moments, there isn’t much we are thankful for. Even the most optimistic, glass-half-full types of us are guilty of this attitude.

There’s an old hymn that goes, “In the good times, praise His name, in the bad times, do the same; in every thing, give the King of Kings all the thanks.”

We are asked to rejoice for all that God does because most of the time it is more convenient not to be excited about the way life seems to be treating us.

Welcome to the paradox.

Isaiah 12:4-5 says, the Lord has done excellent things, whether we halt to acknowledge them or not.

I suppose we deem many occasions and occurrences too trivial to take notice of and be grateful for.

For instance, would it hurt to give Him the credit instead of boasting when an amazing idea pops into our heads? Shouldn’t we tell Him thank you when we remember in the nick of time that we have to do something important?

The bigger, rhetorical question is, do you think God would be really touched if we accredited His intricate, finite handiwork instead of overlooking it as insignificant?

The more we thank the Lord for what we do have, and what He has done, the greater our odds are of receiving more.

Not only that, but the better attention we pay toward the minor details in the ways He looks out for us, the more sensitive our hearts will become in recognizing how much of our daily lives He really is involved in.

There’s nothing wrong with making a list of items and moments we are thankful for each year on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, we should do that.

But what about the other 364 days of the year?

I think Jesus longs to be noticed and appreciated as much as any of us does.

So recently, I decided to make a conscious effort to be more aware of the everyday good things, and in turn, to attribute them to the Lord.

Someone gives me a genuine compliment? I’ll take it as God trying to brighten my day. Find exactly what I’m looking for while at the store, and it’s on sale? Wow, Lord, thanks for being mindful of my time and finances.

You get the idea, even if it does sound silly.

I figure it’s a habit that could never go wrong or get old. There will always be something to be grateful for.

Once the routine sticks, perhaps then the struggle to keep an upright behavior in the midst of trials and errors and dry seasons won’t be as hard as before. He will inevitably help me see the positive in the negative.

I’m not suggesting we should go through hard circumstances with a crazed, fake smile on our faces–that’s next to impossible (as well as creepy). But just like the story of Job, we know God gives and takes away, only to give back again in double-fold, providing we hold back our complaints and thank Him for what we do have.

Who wants to give a gift to a spoiled child who expects the world? As Christians, we know that contentment and gratitude will undoubtedly open the right doors which lead to bigger blessings we can even imagine.

After all, it’s not so much the amount or even the type of benefits we are given; it’s their quality that determines how fulfilled we feel.

As you gather with loved ones this Thursday, keep this thought in mind:

May we not only be thankful because we are blessed, but may our lives be blessed because we are thankful.