Training My Thanks Muscle
Thankfulness, The Free Dictionary online defines it as, “Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.”
With the upcoming holiday, I have felt led to focus on thankfulness. Each of the 31 days of last month, I wrote down something new that I was particularly thankful for that morning. Initially, it was easy to come up with something. The obvious examples came to mind: my family, a good church, a warm home, etc. But as the days went on, I found that I had to really think about and dig deep to find new things I was thankful for. This revelation saddened me, but also made me rejoice for the challenge of changing my thinking.
We do not live in a culture that is focused on thankfulness. We are consumer driven, which means we are bombarded with messages that instead of breeding contentment in our hearts, plant seeds of desire for more. And friends, it’s hard to be thankful when our eyes and our hands are both open in expectation of what’s coming next.
The exercise of my heart and mind to dwell on the blessings of God has been very eye-opening. The muscle of “thanks” hadn’t been used in a while and I was sore, but as I kept pushing forward and kept training my focus and my attitude, I felt a change happening. My perspective turned from me to the world around me, and to the things of the Lord and his perfect gifts. And do you know what happens when your outlook becomes one of thankfulness? You begin to praise because a lifestyle of thanksgiving is infectious and draws others to Jesus.
Try it. Praise him and see if your outlook doesn’t completely change.
“Lord you are good! Your love reaches to the Heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. You are slow to anger and abounding in love. Your steadfast love never ceases, your mercies are new every morning. You never leave us or forsake us, even at night, my heart counsels me. You are forgiving and good. You are close to the brokenhearted and you save those who are crushed in spirit. You rescue me out of the pit, out of the slimy mud and mire. I can cast my cares on you and you will never let me fall. You offer me your righteous right hand, you will fight for me if I would only be still. You love me with an everlasting love. You walk through the waters and fires of life with me so that I can trust you despite hardships and trials. You are good!”
The praise of God is a game changer for our attitudes. It doesn’t change our circumstances but it does change our hearts! What did I learn over the course of the month? Praise is one of the most effective tools I have to both train and maintain an outlook of thankfulness. The truth is that it gives me a fresh perspective and renewed patience to find joy in my challenges.
This holiday season, when you are tempted to dwell on what you don’t have, what you would rather have, or what could be better in your life; choose to exercise your “thanks” muscle instead. Turn your complaint to praise and watch what the Lord does.
Helpful Scripture to meditate on: Ps. 36:5-7; Ps. 103:8; Lam. 3:22-23; Deut.31:6; Ps. 16:7; Ps. 86:5; Ps. 34:18; Ps. 40:2; Ps. 55:22; Isa. 41:10; Ex. 14:14; Jer. 31:3; Isa. 43:2