“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
When I think of gratitude and thankfulness, I think of them as honorary Fruits of the Spirit. They aren’t listed but when looking at the fruits, one thing I notice is that none of them come innate to humans. They are all something we have to work at and the Spirit has to develop in us. The same thing with being grateful and having thanks. We live in an era that is self-indulgent and selfish, worse than ever before. Rushed overnight shipping, the newest and flashiest phone or smart watch, the latest teched-out vehicle – you name it, nothing satisfies us anymore. So many of us overindulge in some way, shape, or form to try to fill a void that only God can while being ungrateful for the gifts He has blessed us with that are truly all we need. We’ve been taught by culture that we need more, we need better.
When I graduated college over three years ago, I thought I had life planned for at least a year ahead, but things changed, and internships and jobs fell through. Even though I had moved back home, I no longer had a church home or had any form of community. My finances were tight and squeezed nearly dry as I struggled for over two years to find employment. As I grew frustrated, God kept reminding me “manna.” Oftentimes, when we look at our lives and compare it to our dreams, our wants and needs, even to the lives of others, and it seems to fall short, we become ungrateful for the things we do have. Manna is simple and ordinary, nothing flashy or exciting (see Exodus 16). I had to learn to be thankful for my daily manna, my just-enough portion, to get me through my days and weeks and months. I’m still in that season, but God reveals His faithfulness and provision in manna just as He does with abundance. When I chose to be grateful for what I did have, even if to my eyes I lacked a great deal, my perspective changed. That is what happens when we let thankfulness grow in our hearts and we live with gratitude: our perspective changes to one that is healthy and appreciative, and we no longer have a desire to chase after temporary, worldly things.
A couple of years ago I read a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This is the perfect book to grow your perspective on your manna and the blessings God has given you. I had started making my own list of things, my one thousand gifts, to be grateful for shortly after reading it and even though it’s been a while, I recently started up again. There is so much to be thankful for beyond the typical things we address: family, friends, a home, clothes, food, etc. It’s the little things. It’s the small accomplishments and the sweet notes. It’s the sun’s warmth on our faces and the gentle kisses of a light breeze. And it can also be the big things: a new job, an engagement or marriage, a publisher chooses to print your book, being a featured artist at an event, etc. Just the breath in our lungs, waking to His new mercies each morning, and being saved from eternal death are things we can always be thankful for. When we learn to look with grateful lenses at our life, we no longer are discontent with wants, but come to a greater appreciation for the small things and can cherish them. Choosing to be grateful and give thanks changes us for the better.
How can I better practice being grateful and giving thanks for things in my life?
If I find myself discontent and unsatisfied, what is causing me to overlook the blessings God has given me and not being appreciative of them?
Thank You for being such a gracious God who desires to bless His children. I am grateful for Your provision each day and appreciate what You have done for me. I am grateful for Your Son’s death on the cross to give me eternal life, even though I don’t deserve it. Help me to see the world with thankful lenses, growing gratitude in my heart, and appreciating all the things You have given me, small and large.