By: Danny Yohannan
Have you ever felt stuck in your walk with the Lord? Your desire may be there to grow in faith and experience His presence in new and deeper ways, but you just aren’t sure what to do in order to see that happen. I think all of us experience that from time to time.
One of the secrets I’ve found to actually growing in our faith is learning to be thankful, recognizing the hand of God in every situation in our lives.
When Paul said, “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), he was in the perfect storm to have every reason to be ungrateful and complain.
He was in prison, lonely, beaten, cold, suffering through incredibly harsh conditions, eating bad food, yet through all of that, he could see the Lord was with him. His heart and attitude was one of worship and thanksgiving.
Over and over again, Paul challenges believers to rejoice and give thanks. This attitude of submitting all things into God’s hand stems from a deep assurance that God knows best and is always working things out for our good (see Romans 8:28). This amazing life God has allowed for us can be a constant joy, in spite of what may or may not happen, because we continually see God’s hand in our lives through thankfulness.
In my own life, I’ve found that when I practice thankfulness, my heart and my eyes are open to see the Lord at work in and through me. When I complain or neglect thankfulness, I find that fear, worry and doubt fill my heart.
Thankfulness leads to being able to live a life of consistent prayer and worship. We see this in David’s life throughout the Psalms; no matter what he faced, he was able to see God’s hand working, and his heart was lifted up in worship, praise, thanksgiving and prayer.
Something incredible happens in our own hearts when we literally stop and say, “Lord, I thank You. I give You praise.”
Thankfulness helps us to see God at work right now in our lives. Thankfulness keeps our hearts from losing hope, and hope fuels our faith to believe God for the things He will do and the promises He has made.
One thing that scares me is realizing that if I am not aware of my own heart and I allow my heart to be unthankful—it will destroy me. The times I’ve probably been the most miserable are the times I’ve been the most unthankful.
Most of us don’t usually wake up one morning and just decide to be unthankful. It’s something that happens over time, often without us realizing it. It starts with us neglecting to be thankful toward those around us, such as family, friends, coworkers, classmates and those who serve us in normal, everyday life, such as waiters, pastors, store clerks, etc.
Neglecting to verbalize our thankfulness can cause our hearts to slowly become numb to what others have done for us. Over time, we disregard that anything good is even happening.
Unfortunately, this attitude of our hearts eventually spills into our walk with God. Our prayers become thankless, and our hearts become cynical to the things of God and blinded to His goodness.
As you read the epistles Paul wrote, you’ll notice he has this ongoing habit of acknowledging and remembering people and what they have done to bless his life and ministry. He thanks them for all they have done, and you can feel the love he has for them.
If we cannot be thankful for the small things in our lives and toward the people we see every day, it will be very difficult for us to trust the Lord, whom we don’t see, and be thankful for His many blessings.
So how can we learn to live out this life of thankfulness?
Here are a few practical things you can do to help direct you along this journey:
1. Daily commit your life and the day to God’s glory.
2. Begin and end your day with a prayer of thanksgiving. If you find you don’t know what to say or how to express it, use the Psalms to help you.
3. Keep a running list of one thing each day you can be thankful for. At the end of each month go back and read through the list, and use it as part of your prayer and praise time.
4. Avoid negative conversations that strip your heart of faith and praise.
5. Try to encourage people around you with words and actions, and be a positive influence on social media rather than pointing out all the things that annoy you.
6. Say “thank you” to the people you interact with each day, even if it’s for something small.
The more you allow these simple practices to become part of who you are, the more you will find your heart is filled with faith because you’ve learned to see the Lord at work all around you through the eyes of thankfulness.
Click here, to read more articles on Patheos by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan.