Faith & Insight: Growing in gratitude

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Most of us in the United States have just celebrated Thanksgiving and each of those gatherings looked different. From those who had large gatherings filled with great joy, to those who are hurting and alone — and with everything in between. Thanksgiving is a time not just to gather, but a time to reflect on what it means to be grateful.
God has called those who love him and those who seek to live for him to display a life of gratitude. This is not a calling that is contingent on our present circumstances, but rather, based on all that God has done for us.
God has delivered you from the bondage of sin and the power of it over your life. All we have to do is call out to Jesus to set us free and he will deliver us. This changes everything and when we are truly grateful for God’s grace and redemption, it will impact the way we work through the harder seasons of life with a grateful heart.
And yet, even with that said, cultivating gratitude is not always easy — especially when we are in the midst of a struggle or when working through grief or another form of loss. So what can we do as disciples of Christ to grow in gratitude, especially when our present circumstances are hard or difficult?
To grow in gratitude that will see us through our current circumstances, we must first remember the sovereign power of a loving and holy God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” We will grow in gratitude in the midst of a hardship when we stop asking God “why” but rather, we ask God: “what are you teaching me?” This points us toward trusting in the Lord to use this time in our lives for his glory. The Lord is faithful and he will never waste any pain we face.
We also will grow in gratitude when we look to Scripture and God’s truth to bring us comfort and hope for the future. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
We won’t get to other side of suffering if we don’t seek out God and his truth for our lives. The word of God brings comfort and godly perspective that will help us remain grateful while we wait on God to work through our current circumstances.
When we talk about how to become more like Jesus, a lot of different pursuits come up, things like prayer, Bible reading, and being involved in service and community with other Christ followers. What doesn’t come up enough, and might have a bigger impact than we realize, is growing in gratitude.
Remember what the Lord has done to save you, and be grateful. Remember what God has done in your past, even when you struggled to be grateful, and the confidence you now have that he is at work as you purpose to honor him in the midst of your present realities. Choose gratitude and cultivate a thankful heart, reflecting the grace of God and his redemption to all who will believe.
Nick Emery is pastor of Hope Crossing Church. 


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