A surprising benefit of thankfulness

November is a month of thankfulness.

Fall on the parkwayAll over social media, we see people expressing gratitude for things in their lives. In early November the posts read along the lines of,

“I’m thankful for a warm house, clean clothes, and food on the table.”

As the month goes on, I’ve noticed an interesting trend: the focus narrows. A 30-day gratefulness challenge causes participants to look beyond the obvious and find the more obscure gifts in life.

A random kindness.
A good night’s sleep.
A warm cup of tea.

An attitude of gratitude benefits us in many ways. First and foremost, a grateful mindset honors the Lord. We remind ourselves that every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17) and that He knows what we need before we even ask (Matt 6:8).

Being thankful also also shifts our thoughts from the daily frustrations to our daily blessings. Instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong in the world (and there are plenty of those), we look for the things that are good. And as we appreciate the things we have, we don’t focus on what we lack.

We live in a society that feeds discontent. Corporations spend billions of dollars on marketing, trying to create a need in our lives that their product/service can fill. Take a minute and consider how many advertisements you see in a day. They’re everywhere! That subliminal desire for more/better can hurt us in at least two ways. It can make us

  • Unsatisfied with what we have, and
  • Doubt God’s care for us.

Doubt undermines our faith James described it this way:

… he who doubts is like a wave of the sea,
blown and tossed by the wind…
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
~James 1:6,8 (niv)

Unstable. Insecure. Volatile.

That’s not how I want to be known, but it’s how I sometimes feel when winds of doubt gust over me. Paul wrote extensively about doubt and cautioned Christians to be grounded in their faith. His advice to the church at Colosse:

… continue to live in [Christ], rooted and built up in him,
strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and
overflowing with thankfulness.
~Col 2:6b-7 (niv)

It’s obvious that a thankful attitude is evidence of a strong faith, but I’ve learned that the same attitude—a daily gratefulness and appreciation for blessings big and small—actually feeds my faith and strengthens me!

Strength. A surprising benefit of thankfulness.

Lord, may our expressions of gratitude not be limited to November. Help us cultivate grateful hearts so that thankful-thinking is a natural part of our everyday lives. And let the contentment that results keep us strong and steadfast, always focused on You.

10 Responses to A surprising benefit of thankfulness
  1. Kathy
    November 18, 2014 | 9:24 am

    There is a quote on my perpetual calendar today that says,

    “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

    It is good for us to be thankful!

    Great post!

  2. Ginger Harrington
    November 19, 2014 | 10:02 pm

    I agree–gratitude increases our faith and keeps our eyes on God. Daily gratefulness is a treasure.

  3. Betty
    November 21, 2014 | 10:30 am

    Awesome points. We have so much to be thankful for. We could be worst off than what we are. We need to remember that. I remember not having a washing machine and having to go to the laundry mat. ?Although my children did not know this. It is good to let them know that it was not always like this. God is good.

  4. Tobi
    November 25, 2014 | 12:22 pm

    Wonderful reminder! I love that verse at the end from Colossians, I am going to put it on my fridge as a reminder. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Cathy Baker
    November 25, 2014 | 10:55 pm

    What a timely message, Susan. Thank you! Hope you and your precious family have a very blessed Thanksgiving. Much love from SC.

  6. Adean
    November 25, 2014 | 11:04 pm

    Very glad I stopped by here today. Always great stuff that comes from your wisdom.

  7. mary gemmill
    November 26, 2014 | 2:22 am

    Susan…I miss you but understand there are times to take breaks…. loved this post….it was a blessing to me:A random kindness.
    A good night’s sleep.
    A warm cup of tea.

    An attitude of gratitude benefits us in many ways. First and foremost, a grateful mindset honors the Lord. We remind ourselves that every good and perfect gift comes from Him

    Praying that every time we are blessed with a random act of kindness, see a bird, a flower, the sea, the sunsets…..that I will remember to thank the Lord for His bounty.

    Blessed Thanksgiving Susan

    Mary G.

  8. mary s.
    November 26, 2014 | 6:19 am

    Thank you, Susan! What great perspective and truth. We all need this focus.

  9. Bev Motley
    November 26, 2014 | 9:08 am

    Well said Susan! As I’ve participated in a Month of Thanksgiving Daily Challenge I rec’d on FB, I have certainly enjoyed the benefit you’ve mentioned! What a privilege to seek the Giver of all good things and ask Him to bring to my mind…however mundane, fun or serious… the thing I’m grateful for AND need to share on any given day. (While I’ve got the seeking & listening part down OK, I realize I’ve got to work a little more on the sharing part…on the day I’m supposed to share it! Wait! Perhaps time management is another benefit!) A benefit I’ve definitely found is that my intentional, gratitude-focused attitude is contagious. I don’t just mean the # of likes or occasional comments, but in my face-to-face interactions as well. Hmmm…is it me or them? Is it just the time of year that people would be more thankful aware right now…or could God be using any and every humbly grateful believer to accomplish His purpose of drawing a lost world to Himself? I am thankful for you!

  10. Beth S.
    November 26, 2014 | 12:23 pm

    Daily gratitude surely does have this way of changing your perspective and helps keeps our eyes on God. Always wonderful to read your words, Susan. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Blessings. xoxo