Do you have trouble cultivating a heart of gratitude this week of Thanksgiving? Perhaps you are discouraged by your circumstances, despairing of some relationship, struggling with some sin, or just simply tired. It seems like others have many things for which they can be thankful, but you have few or even no reasons for gratitude.
If you are a believer in Christ, you not only have many reasons for gratitude, but you have been commanded to be grateful. And you not only can be obedient by expressing gratitude with your lips, but in your obedient words you can actually become grateful.
Among the things I have done to cultivate gratitude is to reflect on Scriptures that call me to and explain gratitude and then contemplate the lives and words of other saints who have been successful in being grateful.
So here is a small sampling of a few statements about gratitude that I have found helpful over the years.
“I commit my soul to my gracious God and Savior, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer, and an infidel, and delivered me from the state of misery on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me; and who has been please to admit me (though most unworthily) to preach his glorious gospel.” [John Newton]
“There is a sense in which gratitude and faith are interwoven joys that strengthen each other. As gratitude joyfully revels in the benefits of past grace, so faith joyfully relies on the benefits of future grace. Therefore when gratitude for God’s past grace is strong, the message is sent that God is supremely trustworthy in the future because of what he has done in the past. In this way faith is strengthened by a lively gratitude for God’s past trustworthiness.” [John Piper, Future Grace.]
“There is no event of our lives which has not its bright side as well as its dark; no incident which may not be turned to good account, and therefore nothing for which we have not reason to thank God, if we view it in a right spirit.…For what is thanksgiving but a recognition of His Majesty, and a tribute to His divine power?” [J. B. Lightfoot]
“…if a man is to be free from discontent and worry it is not enough merely not to murmur but you must be active in sanctifying God’s name in the affliction.” [Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.]
“A gracious soul is thankful and rejoices that he is drawn nearer to God, though it may be by the cords of affliction.…When God has a rod in his hand, a godly man will have a psalm in his mouth.” [Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture]
“If you wish to be thankful, get a heart deeply humbled with a sense of your own vileness. A broken heart is the best pipe to sound forth God’s praise.…A proud man will never be thankful. He looks on all his mercies as either of his own procuring or deserving.…O Christian, think of your unworthiness; see yourself the least of saints and the chief of sinners, and then you will be thankful.…[Secondly] Strive for sound evidences of God’s love to you. Read God’s love in the impress of holiness upon your hearts. God’s love poured in will make the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness.…Hearts deeply aware of God’s love yield the sweetest praises.” [Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture.]
“Fundamental to being unjoyful is being ungrateful. Joy is what you feel when you’re thankful.” [Ben Patterson]
“I do not, in my personal capacity, believe that a baby gets his best physical food by sucking his thumb; not that a man gets his best moral food by sucking his soul, and denying its dependence on God or other good things. I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” [G. K. Chesterton]
“Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts and no one to thank.” [Christina Rossetti]
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” [Paul, Colossians 3:17.]
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” [Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.]
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” [Hebrews 13:15]