Gratitude is the Key to a Well-Lived Life

This holiday season, despite the coronavirus pandemic, try focusing on God’s current, past—and future—blessings.

Posted in , Dec 2, 2020

Pumpkins and gourds with a 'grateful' tag; Getty Images

For most of us, the holiday season brings a sense of excitement and reflection. Memories began to fill our hearts and minds from the smell of the food, the fun, and the precious time spent with family. However, it is a lot more difficult to find joy when you’ve encountered a season of despair and disappointment. All of us can attest that 2020 has been a year full of surprises. Many of us never imagined that life could be like this. But despite all that has transpired this year, I believe that we must search for an even greater sense of peace and gratitude when we partake in our yearly festivities.
This year, I have been so refreshed and inspired by the simple passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This verse has touched me tremendously because it has allowed me to understand that even when I face highs and lows, gratitude is a gift from God. With this in mind, I have come to realize that I am grateful because of what God has done for me, through me, and in me. Instead of seeing gratitude as a response to what I have or don’t have, I now see it as a response to God’s faithfulness in my life, even when I didn’t feel like I deserved it. Gratitude begins with God and from there it begins to spread into every area and facet of our lives. How does this happen? I’d like to unpack a few simple keys to maintaining your gratitude, even during difficult times.
Remember past blessings. First, we must remember to be grateful for past blessings. Every time I reflect on the goodness of God during a test or an unexpected situation, I am filled with an immense sense of gratitude. Isaiah 25:1 reminds us, “I will praise your name for you have done wonderful things.” Recently, I was in a meeting and before the meeting began, the moderator asked everyone to share what he called a “glory story.” Despite all that we’ve endured during a pandemic, what’s your glory story? What is something wonderful that has happened this year despite all of the bad news we’ve experienced? When we focus on past blessings, we remember how God continues to answer our prayers. This inspires faith and brings new hope.
Make gratitude a daily practice. Secondly, we must be grateful for present blessings. In our world today, many believe that they have nothing to praise God for. But all it takes is a casual look into where you are right now to see how his hand of provision continues to keep us despite these difficult circumstances. I would encourage you to make a list. Write down the blessings that are yours: life, family, friendships, church, home, etc. Think about all of them. Allow this gratitude to create a positive outlook. Reach out to a loved one on FaceTime, help out a neighbor or friend in need, look to share with others about the goodness of God. Sometimes when my family and I go out to dinner, I’ll say to myself, “Who can I bless today?” Whether it’s an encouraging word or a few extra dollars for the waiter, I am also in a posture to be a blessing. Try it today! It only takes a spark to get a fire going, but once it starts—it’s contagious!
Look to the future. Lastly, we must be grateful for potential blessings. This is extremely important. We must always remember that great things lie ahead! Begin expecting the best. As we embark upon a new year in a few weeks, look to the future with faith and anticipation. Keep seeking, reaching, and expecting the best for your future. This requires praise! Praise God for what He has done, what He is doing and what He is going to do, and you will find gratitude rising out of your heart every single day. This is key to a well-lived life.

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