We get it. If you’re happy you probably have something to be thankful for. But what about the days you’re not happy, can you be thankful on those days?
What comes first, being happy or being thankful? Great question. Happiness should lead you to say thank you, however, thankfulness will enable you to be happy.
Think about what these people have said:
“Thankfulness is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” (Harry Ironside)
“Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the one who delivers us from sorrow and sin.” (Thaddeus of Vitovnica, a Serbian Monk)
“Thankfulness creates gratitude which generates contentment that causes peace.” (Todd Stocker)
Paul, in Colossians, puts it simply, “Be Thankful”.
There are many places in your life to show gratitude. I think we can safely say that People & Circumstances are at the top of the list.
At the beginning of each of Paul’s new Testament letters (except for Galations) we see a common theme: He’s always saying thank you! We read things like this:
– I’m always praying & being thankful for you…
– When I remember you I say thank you…
– I can’t stop thanking God for you…
– I name you before God when I pray…and I thank him for you…
Paul wasn’t known to really be a people person. So when you read this in each of his letters, you can assume two things: one, is that he was truly grateful for the people God had placed in his life, and two, he knew that being grateful encouraged those he was writing to.
Who are the people in your life you need to be (more) thankful for? Will you take the time to let them know?
Saying thank you is easiest when times are good. Even though we probably aren’t as grateful as we should be, it comes to us easier when nothing is going wrong and everything is going right.
In his book, The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs expressed his new found awareness for being grateful for the simplest things.
stop. Just now, I press the elevator button and am thankful that it arrives
quickly. I get onto the elevator and am thankful that the elevator cable didn’t
snap and plummet me to the basement. I go to the fifth floor and am thankful
that I didn’t have to stop on the second or third or fourth floor. I get out
and am thankful that Julie left the door unlocked so I don’t have to rummage
for my King Kong key ring. I walk in, and am thankful that Jasper is home and
healthy and stuffing his face with pineapple wedges. And on and on. I’m actually
muttering to myself, ‘Thank you. . .thank you. . . thank you.’ It’s an odd way
to live. But also kind of great and powerful. I’ve never before been so aware
of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right
How about saying thank you when things…aren’t so good? In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he writes this, ‘not to be
anxious about anything, but in every situation, with thanksgiving, pray…I have
learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
How can we be content in ‘whatever’ circumstance? That’s really hard. You’re probably saying right now, ‘don’t you know what I’ve been going through? I can’t imagine being thankful or content for that.’ However, you probably have a friend who has gone through some tough times and has been able to say thank you for the mess. I have. They’ve said things like, ‘I’m thankful for cancer. I’m thankful for that mess in my life. Etc.’ This is probably why Alexandra Elle can say, “I am thankful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength.” Here’s Paul again, this time in 1 Thessalonians, being thankful for all things. “Rejoice always, pray
continually, give thanks in all
circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Take a minute…even 5…what circumstance do you need to be thankful for? Is it a good one or a bad one? No one said it was going to be easy, but it will make you happy!
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small group questions:
Do you think gratefulness is a DNA thing or a DISCIPLINE we can learn? (maybe both?)
Where does our culture sit on this issue? Very Grateful / Kind of Grateful / Not so Grateful / Could care a less ?
Seems like Paul is grateful for people in his life? He uses up some valuable writing space in each of his letters. Why? And do you think prayer have anything to do with his gratitude?
Take time in your group to share why you’re thankful for 2 people: one being a family member or friend and the other an individual in your life (past or present).
How about circumstances? Specifically the bad ones. Why do you think, as people who follow Jesus, it is possible to be thankful in ‘ALL’ circumstances?
Paul uses the word, ‘content’ when referring to our circumstances. How do we get to that point in our life?
Can you think of a ‘rough’ patch in your life where you can sincerely say, ‘God, thank you for that’?