Why is it so hard to be thankful?
I’m sure you’ve seen the same articles I have - like this one from Happier Human that tell us how much better off we’ll be if we are intentionally grateful. I’m also sure you’ve read the admonitions in the Bible like in Psalms 100:4.
So have I…
If we know it’s good for us and that it pleases God, why is living a grateful life so difficult?
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
If you listen to popular wisdom, there are several reasons. For example:
- We’re too busy.
- We’re overwhelmed by all the bad news and negative things happening around us.
- It will come off as weak to our friends, co-workers, etc.
I’m sure you could add a few more to the list without thinking too hard, but I think you get the point. I would argue, however, that none of these are the reason. They are all symptoms of the reason. The real reason is because we’re selfish to the core. It’s part of our very nature.
Selfishness kills gratefulness
Selfishness kills gratefulness. To be a grateful person, we must eliminate selfishness from our lives to the maximum extent possible.
I remember when I was in basic training oh so many years ago. It was the first time I had ever been away from home for an extended period. People were yelling at me all the time. I was learning a bunch of new stuff that had very specific (and sometimes peculiar) steps to be followed. I didn’t know anyone else, really. And I only got to talk to my family once or twice a week (if our privileges didn’t get taken away) for 10 or 15 minutes.
It was the first time I ever truly experienced loneliness, but I discovered something amazing. I’m not sure why, but one day while I was alone, I began to think about and thank God for all the blessings I had in my life. I thanked him for my wife, for getting me through the latest inspection, for allowing me to get to church, for the sunny day, and for anything else I could think of.
And I discovered that thanking Him did two important – and instantaneous – things for me. It pulled me out of the lonely, sad place I was in and gave me hope and a better attitude. By thanking God for His provisions, it pulled my focus off me and the negatives in my life and onto God and the positives.
I’ve had that same experience more times than I can count in my life. When I stop focusing on me and start focusing on God and the good in my life, my attitude changes.
How can I escape my selfishness?
God is the only one that can remove selfishness from our lives, but here are 12 ways to show gratitude to God and live a grateful life.
- Include God in daily life. Offer the day to him in the morning and keep him, his gifts and his commands in mind throughout the day.
- Sing to him. Whether it’s at church, in your car, or at home, God always inhabits the praises of his people.
- Learn his name. God has many different names in the Bible and they all mean different – and powerful – things. Check out this list of the names of God from The Navigators.
- Spend time with him. Read your bible. Pray. Talk a walk in nature while thinking about God, what he’s doing in our life, and his nature (or names). Spend time ALONE with him.
- Serve his people. Get involved in church in ministries that excite you.
- Serve the lost. Get involved in the community in helping the hurting.
- Choose to be gracious and kind to others.
- Choose to be merciful when you’re in a position of power. Remember God’s gift of mercy to you and reciprocate it to others.
- Live righteously. A righteous life is a life that is right in God’s eyes.
- Shun pride. Consciously choose to put others first and live a humble life.
- Be a generous giver. Give time, money and effort to God and others.
- Look for his hand in your life. Take time to reflect on your day, week or month and think about all the ways God intersected your life. Live each day with the awareness that God is in each moment and look for his work.
This is impossible
Looking at this list of 12 ways to show gratitude to God, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think there’s no way I could do all of that. And that is definitely true. But God doesn’t ask us to do all of that. He simply asks us to believe in Him and receive his gift of life. Doing any or all of these items won’t earn your way into heaven, but they will show gratefulness to God for his gift of salvation and help pass that gift on to a hurting world.