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One by One

The world is rampant with complaining. If you listen to the news or get behind the wrong person in the grocery store line you will hear it. It’s negative, draining, and we all do it from time to time. While it happens to the best of us, we are called to more. 

There is an old hymn that we used to sing at church called “Count Your Blessings”. Not one of my favorites growing up. In fact, I might admit that I used to roll my eyes at the concept of counting my blessings so formally. Who needs to do that? Well, it turns out that is something I (and many others) need to do. 

1 Thessalonians 5 has some scriptures that speak to this. Specifically, verse 18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you.”

A few verses before it simply reminds us to “rejoice always”

There are verses about being content, rejoicing, and giving thanks throughout the Word that remind us generally and specifically that we are supposed to be different than the news or the cranky lady in the grocery store line (yeah, I had one of those run-ins recently).  We are called to do more and be more in general when we compare ourselves to the world. Why would this be any different? 

Maybe you are the cranky lady at the grocery store. Maybe you have watched the news too much and found yourself dwelling on the negative and the “what ifs” and have somehow joined the chorus of negativity that pervades the workplace. It’s ok, sister. We all fall into that trap. I am here to remind you of a few things to get you started back on the right track. 

  1. Start with the obvious or the small.

The things my kids pray thanks for on a daily basis are our family and the food we have. Start there! Did you eat today? Be thankful! Do you have friends and family? Say thanks to God for them - even if they are getting on your nerves right now. Can you tie your shoes? Be grateful! I know it seems silly, but it is a great place to start.  

  1. Move on to the things we take for granted. 

Thank God for health, our homes, our spouse, cars, and nifty things like the internet. Thank God for that job that you have - even if you are praying for a new one! When we take things for granted we are forgetting to be full of gratitude.

  1. Go deeper. 

What about salvation? When was the last time you went before the King and said thank you for Jesus’ sacrifice outside of a church service? When was the last time you thanked God for the gift of sight or music? When we think about the beauty of salvation and the grandeur of the world around us, we start to feel a deeper sense of gratitude toward our creator. 

If you have ever been in therapy (and many of us have!) you might have had the concept of a gratitude journal brought up to you. I am horrible at taking the time to journal every day, but I understand the benefits of it. At one point I did keep a gratitude journal. I told myself that I was going to write just a few things each day. Surely I could think of three things every day that I was thankful for! It ended up being easier than I thought it would be and I was able to fill up pages with things that I was thankful for. Small things like the ladybug that I saw on the bench as I sat outside. The sound of church bells from the tiny Baptist church down the country road near my home. The laughter of my children. The sweet cooing of the baby across the room. One of my students reading a word that was hard. Curling up in the evening with my middle daughter on the couch and the smell of her freshly washed hair. 

These little things became big things. Reasons to notice the world around me. Reasons to be full of gratitude. And the list expanded each day. I was surprised that I didn’t repeat myself as often as I thought I would. I could find new reasons each day to be thankful. And what did 1 Thesalonians say? This is Christ’s will for us! To be full of thanks. 

Give it a try. Especially if you are struggling. Especially if you are in a hard season of life. Especially if you are depressed or down. Especially if you are feeling burnt out. It was and is a balm to my soul and I believe it will be for yours too. 

Father, forgive us when we forget to be thankful for the multitude of things you have given us. Give us eyes to see things we are grateful for. Let the positivity from the practice of being thankful and grateful radiate into the world. Let us be your light. Amen.

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