Thankfulness doesn’t come easy to most of us. The world bombards us with reasons to doubt, worry, be afraid, and complain. If we’re not careful, discouragement and bitterness can come on the heels of those powerful feelings. But here’s the secret: We have a choice in what we allow ourselves to feel. When we choose to be thankful, we experience great joy and peace.
Any athlete will tell you the more he or she uses certain muscles, the stronger they become. This holiday season, we can choose to flex the muscles of thankfulness and to reap the benefits of doing so. Here’s how:
Choosing what we think.
Our minds serve as the control center of our lives. That’s why it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB: “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” We can choose to say no to things that seem bigger than God Himself, to feelings that call us to look away from Him and fixate on the ugly and difficult issues of this world. We can choose to obey the Lord when He says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The Lord loves us, and He knows thankful thoughts will take us to a good place with Him.
When disturbing thoughts and feelings come our way, we can choose in our minds to turn the tables and flex our muscles of thankfulness instead. The Holy Spirit helps us with this by opening our eyes, ears, and hearts to reasons for gratitude in the midst of difficult circumstances. We can ask Him to help us with this, and He will. That’s one of the reasons He is called our Helper (John 14:26).
Choosing what we say.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21, NASB). Our words can bring death or life into our lives and the lives of others. We can speak words of thanks to God for what He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives and the lives of those we love. We can speak about how we are experiencing Him and His provision; we can utter these things out loud to ourselves and others. We can choose to think thankful thoughts and then to express those thoughts in thankful words. All words have consequences. They can carry us to lofty heights of joy and peace (life), or they can drop us into pits of bitterness and despair (death). The choice is ours.
Choosing what we do.
We also have a choice in what we do. We can take actions to flex our muscles of thankfulness. We can memorize scriptures that cultivate thankful attitudes toward God. We can choose to think about and speak them out loud over and over. Just this morning I read Psalm 73:23-26. I wrote it on an index card to carry around and think/speak about this week. It’s full of reasons to thank God.
We also can choose thankful actions toward others. We can send people notes of appreciation and speak words of thankfulness about them. Out of a thankful heart, we can do things for them in order to bless them.
My husband started a new exercise regimen this week. His muscles are experiencing the results of it. Any time we start flexing muscles in new ways, they scream in pain and rebellion at first; but over time, they grow bigger and stronger. In the end, the flexing benefits us greatly. The same principle applies to thankfulness. It may seem awkward and difficult at first to choose thankfulness over some of the powerful negative emotions in life; but in the end, embracing thankfulness over negativity will produce victorious and abundant living. That’s why the Lord commands us to be thankful.
May the year ahead find each one of us, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20, NASB).
Question: What are you thankful for? Comment at the link below.