The Secret to Gratitude

What’s the secret to gratitude?

It’s incredibly good for us, but what helps us truly appreciate what God has provided for us?

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Hi @Carson,

Thank you for this lesson. I have been pondering about gratitude too recently. Knowing God wants us to be thankful at all times, I have often asked how we can do it wholeheartedly. How can we hold gratitude in our heart while also being honest to God about the anger or pain we feel? For example, when we hear of bad news from our doctor about our health or a family members’ health, its hard to say, “All of life is a gift from God”. The gift may be in the opportunity for more dependence on God, our spiritual transformation or perhaps in a new calling but having this perspective requires being enabled by the Holy Spirit. Having true gratitude may not always start with noble prayers of thankfulness for God’s blessings. In fact it may actually start with our very worst behavior but as we turn to His word and realize God still loves us inspite of our worst selves, we are humbled to respond in true gratitude. We may then feel empowered to say with all our heart, “Thank you God for your holy sacrificial love, for your Holy Spirit, for your strength, for your presence, your promises, your hope, your people, your purpose…”. For many years I practiced gratitude in my prayers because I am supposed to as a Christian and hoped feelings of gratitude will follow but true gratitude seems to come from experiencing a touch of love from God.

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This is such a great perspective.

To take this to the logical extreme, we would need to say that God does not want us to sleep. Because how can we be grateful to God if we are sleeping? A true Christian would never sleep so they could constantly thank God for everything.

The point of these exhortations is not to suffocate us with an impossible standard.

Rather, I think the idea is that gratitude is a ‘base note’ for the Christian life.

(I actually didn’t know exactly what a base note was, so I had to look it up! According to one perfumer’s website, “Base notes in a perfume form the foundation on which the entire perfume is built, providing the last impression of the scent”).

So I agree with what you say here:

Sometimes, it’s just a whisper, but perhaps at the end of a raw prayer of lament, we can say, “God, thank you for listening to me pour out how angry and jaded I am with you and the world right now.”

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Yes, I agree with you. Though at times thanking God for small things while waiting on answers to bigger challenges feels like a half-hearted attempt at gratitude, I see great value in it. It helps us become more aware of God’s goodness and keeps our heart from bitterness. There are many scientific studies that suggest practicing gratitude tranforms our neural networks to promote better emotional and mental health. As Christians we can always find genuine reason to thank God for His promise of help, guidance and protection, no matter our circumstance. But when we are able to sense the love of God, expressing genuine gratitude becomes so much easier.

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