I struggle to be a thankful person. Everyday conveniences have become expectations; clean water, lights, shelter, cold fridge foods, and a pantry with an assortment of snacks, cereal, and canned goods. Our washer and dryer work, my shower water is characteristically comfortable, and the clothing in my closet is more than adequate. My flip phone, though not very smart, works relatively well, and our internet is routinely reliable. And my car conveniently carries me here and there as I dash through the details of my days. An assortment of people impact my life including family, friends, and casual acquaintances; many offer smiles and well-wishes when our paths cross. I can publicly attend church and worship God without fear of persecution, and I have experienced kindness, patience granted, and forgiveness extended by individuals I have adversely impacted or wounded. Yet, authentic thanksgiving can scarcely stir as a ready response of my heart.
Maybe you can relate. Our vulnerability towards ingratitude is first glimpsed in Genesis 3. In the preceding chapter, God declared His creation as good, and His workmanship of mankind as very good. In a tailor-made talk, Satan taints God’s declarations by implying to mankind that things would be better if…. In turn, the human heart was stirred to wander in ways that makes little of God’s abundant blessings. Thankfully, God is intimately acquainted with us (Psalm 139). He invites us to bring our calloused hearts to Him and to cultivate deep roots of thankfulness through prayer, intentional pursuit, perseverance, and praise.
Prayer: Invite God to clean your heart (Psalm 51: 10-12); to make it tender to the things of Him (Ezekiel 36:26).
Pursue: Tune in to your thought life. Romans 12:2 states we are transformed as we adjust our thoughts to God; intentional in what we think upon (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Persevere: Life brings difficulties, disappointment, and discouragement. Thanksgiving thrives as we fix our focus on Christ (Hebrews 12: 1 & 2), and God’s promises for strength (Philippians 4:13), comfort (Matthew 5:4), good (Romans 8:28), guidance (Psalm 32:8), transformation (Philippians 1:6), and victory (Romans 8:37).
Praise: As we think upon things that are praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), thankfulness takes root in our hearts.
Now for a practical challenge: Intentionally express thanks to God each morning and each evening (1 Chronicles 23:30). It may help to write your thanksgivings down. As we actively give thanks, God cultivates within us thankful hearts.