Note: This post was first published 8/30/2018
1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —ESV
How many times do we go through life reacting to the circumstances around us, and feeling justified in doing so? It is tempting to be thankful when things are going good, and to complain when things are not going as planned.
The Premise Of Gratitude
The problem with this is we really have no grounds to complain if we are born again believers. The fact that we have eternal life is way more than we deserve to begin with, not to mention all the other blessings God adds as we journey with Him.
Obviously we don’t feel blessed all the time. And we don’t always feel like God has written our name in the Lamb’s book of life. This is where faith comes in. We have an understanding of our position in the Kingdom through the promises of God in His Word. If we cling to these promises, it is possible to give thanks—even in the fiery trials of life.
Good Cycles & Bad
What I’ve found in my own experience, is that gratitude is a seed that bursts forth in joy at the proper time of harvest. But complaining is a seed of its own. It too will bring forth a harvest—one of bitterness and more suffering. And as this harvest comes in, you will be tempted to complain more, which will bring into continuation a vicious cycle.
Gratitude can create a cycle of its own too. Like I mentioned, you will reap a reward of joy at the proper time. It also multiplies blessings in your life which will cause you to be naturally more thankful, which will create more joy and blessing. This is the kind of cycle we are looking for.
Even if maintained properly, this cycle of gratitude, joy and blessing is bound to be broken sometimes though. This is when it becomes important to remember not to fall into the opposite cycle. There is always something we can thank God for.
A Personal Example
There was a time in my life when I had fallen into the vicious cycle of complaint, bitterness and hardship. I was doing badly spiritually, relationally, and in business. The worse things became, the harder it became to be thankful. Finally, after battling with many hardships in business internally, I lost my business entirely to a rival. This cycle spanned about two or three years. As I tried to get back on my feet, I could find no real peace.
In this case, God sovereignly began to restore me, and He gave me glimmers of hope spiritually and in my circumstances. This gave me strength enough to start giving Him thanks. And the more I thanked Him and gave Him the praise He was due, the more I began to reap joy and blessings. Many times, I am tempted to complain again, but I repent of it when I fall into it. It has been a painful but very rewarding lesson. The type you don’t forget soon.
So give it a try if you haven’t already. Not with the primary motive to reap blessings—though they will come—but because He is worthy!