How can we cultivate a greater sense of gratitude? George Herbert, a seventeenth-century British poet, encourages readers toward that goal in his poem “Gratefulness”: “Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more: a grateful heart.” Herbert recognized the only thing he needed in order to be thankful was simply an awareness of the blessings God had already given him.
There are two forms of gratitude. One is the natural response to a kindness shown to us. The other is choosing to be grateful when we are not the recipients of kindness, or when we are in challenging circumstances. Gratefulness requires us to put in effort in searching for reasons to be thankful, even in situations where it may seem reasonable to fret. It is the capacity to reflect beyond our present circumstance and to search for what is beautiful and good.
Hindrances to gratitude include wrong habits, pride, affluence, circumstances and the people we hang around with (people who are critical, complaining and comparing). So how can we cultivate gratitude in our lives? Here are some thoughts:
Cultivate the habit of counting our blessings
Charles Dickens advised those who thrive on complaints to: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Cultivate prayer and humility
One of the fundamental qualities invariably found in a grateful person is humility. Gratitude is the overflow of a humble heart, just as surely as an ungrateful, complaining spirit flows out of a proud heart.
Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.
Striving for affluence can lead to arrogance and contempt, so it is important to cultivate contentment in all circumstances.
Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Be with positive and thankful people.
Birds of a feather flock together.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing”. Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Look for something positive in our circumstances
Choosing to find the good in whatever circumstance we are in.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.
The Bible declares Christ Jesus as the source of all blessing in Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. “All things” encompasses both the extravagant and the mundane, everyday gifts in our lives. Everything we receive in life comes directly from our heavenly Father and He willingly gives us those gifts out of His love for us. We encourage you to spend time each practicing gratefulness. A thankful heart can sense the greatness of our God.
David, Carla and Wendy
Pastoral Care Team