Cultivating thankfulness can be a constant battle. It is so easy to find myself grumbling and complaining because of some difficulty or hardship that I am dealing with in my daily life. We have seen from the people of Israel that God isn’t pleased when we grumble. God wants us to be cultivating thankfulness in our everyday lives. I have found four elements that help us to grow a thankful heart. This week we will look at element number one, to remember. It is vitally important that we remember what God has done for us and is doing in us if we are to cultivate thankfulness.
In my word study on Thanksgiving I came across some notes in my NIV Life Application Bible by Zondervan and Tyndale House Publishers, (2011). The notes were under a song that was written by Asaph. Asaph was appointed by David along with other Levites to minister before the Ark of the Lord. Their job was to praise and thank God, they did this by writing songs, and praising God and teaching the people to praise and thank God.
Over the next few blog posts I am going to be going through these for elements of thanksgiving and talking about them in a little more detail. I have been surprised as I have moved through these four elements how much I have learned about the importance of cultivating thankfulness. God really does want thankfulness to be a vital part of our daily lives.
God has been faithful in our lives in more ways than we realize. Often we are too busy to remember all the things that God has done for us. The first element in cultivating thankfulness is through remembering.
When life is overwhelming and scary taking the time to remember what God has already done can be the catalyst to put everything back into perspective. It can be so easy to find ourselves close to panic because of the difficulties that we are facing in the everyday. Maybe it is the loss of a job, or financial struggles, or maybe it is a child who is more difficult that you feel you can manage whatever the situation is, if we stop and take a few moments and remember who God is and what he has done in our lives our perspective seems to change. We begin to remember who God is in relation to who we are and everything seems a little less frantic.
We can’t control the things that happen to us, or that come into our lives, but when we take the time and remember that God is sovereign and has demonstrated his faithfulness to us over and over again many times our view of the circumstances changes. Those struggles don’t seem to be quite as big.
In scripture we see lots of examples of this.
In Psalm 138:7 – Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
The author of this Psalm, David, was remembering what God had done for him already. He was thankful to God for His protection and guidance.
In Luke 17:11-17 we meet the ten lepers that Jesus healed. All ten of the lepers were healed and made clean, but only one of them came back to Jesus to remember that it was Jesus who healed him, and gave praise to God for his healing. This Samaritan was well aware of the blessing he had received from God with the healing he had received. This one man remembered what God had done.
Often when we least feel like being thankful are the times when we need to remember what God has done and give thanks the most. It is in those dark times that we are given the strength we need to move forward to in our spiritual warfare.
We have a reminder of this in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Yes even for the hard, painful and terrible things that God allows into our lives, even during those times we need to remember that God is sovereign and give thanks for what he is doing. God is in control. We must constantly remind ourselves of this, because we are so very quick to forget. When we learn to give thanks to God even in our sufferings we are reminding ourselves that God is bigger than our pain.
God isn’t sleeping.
God hasn’t forgotten you.
God is in control.
And yes, we can trust him.
Finally I want to talk about remembering that God has paid a very high price so that we can live with him. God wanted to demonstrate his love for us in a powerful way. We need to remember that Jesus suffered and died for us. We can’t allow ourselves to take for granted the price that was paid for our sins.
We only have a hope because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. But if we allow ourselves to become distracted by all the mess we are living in the middle of right now we might forget the power of the cross.
I encourage you to take a few minutes and write down some things that God has done for you in your life. How has God shown himself faithful to you? How has God showered blessings in your family? Are you a Christian? Don’t forget to pause and remember the price that was paid for your sins.
Let us keep learning to cultivate thanksgiving in our lives and remember what God has done.