Golden Pillar Class Study, teacher Leslie Crain.
What do thankfulness and gratitude mean? How can we give thanks for everything? Do we have these attributes?
I Thessalonians 5:15-18 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God…
If we give thanks for everything, everything will work together for our good. Prosperity and adversity will work toward our good when we’re thankful. When we complain, we disobey so we don’t benefit from being grateful and obedient.
I Thessalonians 5:18 (Amplified Bible) in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Gratitude refers to the quality of appreciating and giving thanks for things you have and things you’re grateful for. It helps you get closer to God by recognizing all the blessings in your life and makes it easier to focus on the positive. Gratitude is a positive response to experiencing God’s goodness and grace. Then you realize God is working in your life so you show your gratefulness in how you live. Gratitude in the Bible means “extending favor towards” or giving grace and kindness as a response. The Greek word in the Bible means the quality of showing appreciation and returning kindness.
Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The word for gratitude is in the Bible 157 times, thanks or thankful – 72 times, and fear not – 365 times. We need to learn and develop gratitude. Our thankful times give us more times to express our feelings than we normally have.
Examples of gratitude in the Bible that we can learn from:
The leper, Jesus healed him and he was one of all 10 lepers that returned to praised God and thank him (Luke 17:11-19).
The sinful woman brought an alabaster jar of expensive perfume to anoint and wash Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50).
King David wrote Psalms about how grateful he was, even at his lowest points he thanked God for His forgiveness.
Hannah was barren and cried to God in prayer. He gave her Samuel and she gave great thanksgiving (1 Samuel 1:1-28).
Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den because he wouldn’t worship other gods. He still gave thanks and worshipped. God heard his prayer and protected him, so he came out of the den glorifying and thanking Him (Daniel 6:1-10).
Job lost everything (children, possessions, health). He still praised God. God blessed him with more than he had before (Job 1:1-22).
Paul persecuted Christians. But after his heart was changed, he was a humble, grateful person. He was grateful in prison.
It’s easy to be grateful when things go well. It’s harder to be thankful when challenges come. Often we fall into negative thinking that leaves no space for being gratefulness. The best solution when you struggle to be grateful, is to go to the scriptures and remember everything happens according to God’s will. He’ll give peace and strength as you go through. We can rest and be grateful for what he’s doing – like our Biblical examples. We need to be ready with an arsenal of thankfulness.
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Steps to help us be grateful for the hard things in life:
Accept. Acceptance is the first part of being thankful. Acceptance means fully acknowledging the facts of a situation and not fixating on how it shouldn’t be. It doesn’t mean you’re happy about the situation. Jesus accepted what he had to do.
Luke 22:42-43 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
Have you been given a gift that you didn’t like and wondered why in the world did they think I would want this, or that this would make me happy? Have you ever wondered about things that happen or don’t happen in your life? Have you asked God, why have you allowed this? How can this be part of your perfect plan? I don’t see anything perfect about this. God gives us grace and strength for right now. It’s all right when we accept it by trusting God for all we face or think about.
Quotes by Sarah Ban Breathnach about acceptance:
“Accepting Real Life: What is acceptance? Acceptance is surrendering to what is; our circumstances, our feelings, our problems, our financial status, our work, our health, our relationships with other people, the delay of our dreams. Before we can change anything in our life we have recognize that this is the way it’s meant to be right now. For me, acceptance has become what I call the long sigh of the soul. It’s the closed eyes in prayer, perhaps even the quiet tears. It’s “all right” as in “All right, You lead, I’ll follow.” and it’s “all right” as in “Everything is going to turn out all right.” This is simply part of the journey.
Over the years I have discovered that much of my struggle to be content despite out side circumstances has arisen when I stubbornly resisted what was actually happening in my life at the present moment. But I have learned that when I surrender to the reality of a particular situation– when i don’t continue to resist, but accept– a softening in my soul occurs. Suddenly I am able to open up to receive all the goodness and abundance available to me because acceptance brings with it so much relief and release.”
“Whatever situation exists in your life right now, accept it. Cast a glance around and acknowledge what is going on. This is my tiny kitchen with the dirty floor, this is how much I weigh, this is my checking account balance, this is where I am right now. This is that is really happening in my life at the present moment. This is okay. This is real life.”
“After accepting our present circumstances, no matter what they are, we must learn to bless them. …blessing whatever vexes us is the spiritual surrender that can change even troublesome situations for the better. Blessing the circumstances in our lives also teaches us to trust.”
Surrender: We have to surrender our way after we accept. Surrender is the act of giving up control or resistance. Sister Leslie visualizes the old forts in the early days of the Wild West when she thinks of surrender. When someone in the fort surrendered, they walked out with their hands up. Surrender is the act of giving up what we think we can control. We give up control, accept the outcome to be in God’s hands, and commit it to him. Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him” (II Timothy 1:12).
Psalm 37:3-4 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit: to give in charge or trust; deliver for safekeeping; entrust; consign.
Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
The “IT” in “he shall bring it to pass” isn’t necessarily our ways or our plans. He will bring to pass that which is His perfect plan for our lives. When you’re in the hospital, you don’t have much choice in your care. You’re stuck with their food, gowns, booties, bed, and pillows. They’re going to come in and take your vitals every 3 hours. You have to commit it. When we commit all our burdens, then the Lord sends his angel to walk beside us.
Bless: After accepting our circumstances and surrendering, we must learn to ask God to bless it. When we ask for God’s blessing on someone or something, we’re asking for God to fulfill their needs and make things right. We’re exercising our trust in God, his wisdom, his compassion, and trusting God will work things out. He has a plan for us and his love never fails. In the middle of the trial or circumstance, we can be thankful for what we’re going through. The regular practice of choosing thankfulness in our interactions makes it easier. Gratitude improves relationships, brings you closer to loved ones, and makes you happier. It protects us from toxic emotions of greed, frustration, anger, bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
A study about Personality And Individual Differences in 2012, showed that grateful people have fewer aches and pains. Being positive gives mental and physical benefits that increase happiness and reduce depression. Grateful people are more compassionate and empathic than others. Practicing gratitude causes confidence and even helps us have better sleep. We need to take time every day to think about what we’re thankful for or write things in a gratitude journal.