Over the past few years, our world has faced international conflict, climate change, and a global pandemic. But as Paul reminds us in this verse about gratitude, we can always choose to be grateful, no matter the circumstances.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul writes:
“Rejoice forever, constant prayer, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Paul does not say this lightly; he doesn’t have an easy life. He was shipwrecked, beaten and imprisoned for his faith. Paul was also persecuted by friends and former colleagues. He was rejected by the Jewish religious authorities as a heretic and was kicked out of town squares and meeting places to preach the gospel.
He’s lived through very difficult times, and he still says, “always rejoice”.
Can we learn to be grateful in the midst of our difficult situations? Gratitude is a place of the heart, and we can choose this every day, no matter what we’re going through. Life isn’t perfect. It is not meant to be and it never will be. It is a journey and joy can be found in the journey. The secret of happiness is that we can be grateful for the little things, even when we are weathering the storm.
So How Does Gratitude Help Us?
- We can choose to trade our emotions. Instead of worry, jealousy, fear or whatever might happen, we can actively choose gratitude to replace it in our lives. By actively focusing on our positive emotions, we leave less room for negative emotions, and even if we only focus on them for a moment or two, over time, That can completely change the way we see it.
- Studies have shown that practicing gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal and actually writing down all the things we are grateful for, can improve sleep quality and reduce feelings of anxiety. and depression. They also show that gratitude leads to better moods and less fatigue.
- Studies have also shown that gratitude can have a protective role, teaching us to be grateful for what we have and protecting ourselves from depression. This makes sense for people who are bullied and have low self-esteem. Can we steer our way out of anxiety by practicing gratitude?
Is there a Bible verse about gratitude?
In Luke 12, Jesus exhorted His followers to look at the world around them, considering how God would meet all their material needs as He did for the lilies and the birds of the air. In verse 27, He says:
“Consider how the lily grows. They don’t do labor or spin.”
Thus, the more we seek, the more we realize God’s faithfulness and love for us.
This look back and forth every day of our lives is for all of us. That’s where gratitude comes from, and joy will flare from there. It opens our eyes to what is already in front of us.
In the Bible, Jesus gave thanks. John 6:5-11 shows that Jesus thanked God for the loaves and fish and proceeded (supernaturally) to distribute them:
“Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and distributed it to those sitting as much as they wanted.”
In other parts of the scriptures, Jesus thanked God that He had hidden Bible truths but revealed them to children, He thanked God that He heard our prayers. He prayed for the healing of Lazarus, and in Luke 22, Jesus gives thanks to God before the Last Day. Dinner.
These gratitude scriptures show us that Jesus gave thanks while He was on earth. And as He does, so do we.
Four ways to practice gratitude
- Spend more time outside in nature. Be aware of all your senses. What can you see, smell, hear, taste or touch? Be thankful for the natural world that surrounds you.
- Write it down. Make a list of the things you are grateful for today. This keeps your brain active and you’ll find that you’re looking at things throughout the day in gratitude. What has bought you joy today?
- Express your gratitude to the people around you. If something someone did or said is the source of your gratitude today, tell them. Spread more gratitude. I find it very contagious and once you get started, who knows where it will end up.
- Turn to your Bible. There are many wonderful scriptures about gratitude that will turn your heart to God and fill you with gratitude.
Let’s ask God for help if we don’t know how to give thanks in our current situation. Even responding to Him right now is to say that you are ready to be changed. Even if circumstances don’t change, people’s hearts can change. Sometimes the circumstances of life are beyond our control, all we can do is give thanks for everything and ask God to change our hearts.
Gratitude illuminates what has long been right in front of us. It helps us fight depression, illness and low self-esteem, it fills our mind with positive thoughts so there is less room for the bad. And it’s not about pretending bad things don’t happen, it’s about making choices to hold on to what’s good. Whether we have it or not, we always have the choice to be grateful.
A prayer of gratitude
Father, we ask that You meet us where we are today. Help us to know that we can choose to be grateful, whatever life throws at us. Teach us to be grateful. We want to learn to always rejoice and know that whatever we go through, You are always there with us. Help us to say thank you even when it’s difficult and even when we can’t see You at work in our current circumstances. Amen.
If you liked these Bible verses about gratitude, you might also like this post on Finding Joy.
Marek Piwnicki’s photo on Unsplash
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