As I leave the season of Thanksgiving and enter into the frenzy that precedes Christmas, I can focus on what I want instead of rejoicing in what I already have. One way that I’ve learned to fight off coveting both things from stores or other people’s lives is to practice thankfulness. First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (NKJV). At times, I struggle be thankful when I see people who have gone further in their careers than me or have the families I wish I had. Over time and space, I’ve learned to be more thankful with a few key practices.
Five ways to grow in gratitude:
1. Count Your Blessings
Once when I was frustrated because my life seemed to be heading downhill, I met a homeless woman by my local grocery store. She had lost her job and was sleeping in a cemetery. When I saw someone in worse shape than me, I realized I had a lot to be thankful for. At least I still had my own bed. That night, I wrote a list of the top five things I was thankful for that day. Then I started writing them down every night. My whole mindset shifted to looking for the good instead of expecting the worst. Psalm 107:15 says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men” (NKJV). God does great things for us every day, we just need to watch for them.
2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Beyond just listing the things you are thankful for, you can also journal the experiences to read later. When I go back to some old entries, I see how God got me through circumstances that appeared impossible at the time. Those stories become my testimony of God’s faithfulness. God didn’t just care for people in the Bible times, His goodness extends to me in the present.
3. Ask Others to Share Their Praises
If I feel like my list of blessings is lacking, sometimes I ask others to tell me about how God is working in their lives. However, I must have the right mindset. When I am in a bad mood, hearing about good things happening to others can do one of two things to me. I can either pout that I don’t have what they do, or realize that if God cared for them, He would also attend to my needs. The two ways I listed above help us to recognize good things, but our joy multiplies when we share our praises with others.
Malachi 3:16 says, “Then those who feared the spoke to one another, And the listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the And who meditate on His name” (NKJV). As we fear God, we share about His mighty acts with each other. This grows our faith and blesses our hearts. The Lord delights in those who abide in the truths of His Word.
4. Talk about God’s Goodness with Others
After we ask others to talk about God’s faithfulness, then we share our praises in response. Even on our darkest days, good remains. Take that list of things you are thankful for, even if they are only a pair of shoes and a blue toothbrush, and tell someone. Call your mom, phone a friend, or talk to the lady at the register at the grocery store. When we hear ourselves speaking about what we are thankful for, it registers deeper in our minds.
Psalm 89:1 says, “I will sing of the mercies of the forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations” (NKJV). God designed our mouths to sing about His mercy so that every person that ever walks with earth will know the faithfulness of God.
5. Write out the Names of God:
Psalm 97: 12 says, “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name” (NKJV). Another way to flex our thankfulness muscles is to write down the names of God. Jehovah Jireh reminds us that God is our Provider, not our job or our spouse. The Lord provides for all our needs because He owns everything (Philippians 4:19). Jehovah Rapha means God our Healer. As we saw with all the miracles Jesus performed during His life on earth, we see that He can heal our hurts too. The names of God reflect His character. Research the names of God and find out which ones apply to your current circumstances. When we think about Who we have in Christ, it helps wipe out our longings for what we don’t own.
These are just a few ways to build our thankfulness muscles. The bigger our gratitude grows, the more capacity we have to be truly thankful in all things. My thankfulness pulls me out of the slump of feeling like I don’t have enough to realizing the abundance of all I have. I am blessed beyond measure. May you grow in gratitude every day as you bask in the Lord favor shines upon you.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.