The Magic of Gratitude: Learning To Be Thankful in a Stressful World

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Do you ever find yourself in a situation you’d like to wish yourself out of? Wouldn’t it be great if there were some magic words you could say that would transform any moment in your life into something better? The truth is, there are words like this, but it isn’t magic, it’s gratitude.

Gratitude? Really? In everything?

When Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians to give thanks “in everything,” did he really mean everything, everything, or did he just mean every good thing? It is easy to give thanks for Thanksgiving dinner. No one minds being asked to say grace over this beautiful huge meal with family and friends gathered around, and fifteen deserts waiting for us later. But what about giving thanks over a hospital bed, holding a sick child, or over news of a job loss, or just the everyday maddening stress that we all face in plain old life? Can we thank God for these things as well? Did Paul really mean we are supposed to give thanks in everything? Can we really learn to be thankful in a stressful world?

Finding the Grace in Gratitude

Every moment that comes our way has been ordained by God. He sent it straight to us for a reason. Every moment. Those moments can hold joy, sorrow, heartache, or happiness. We, however, get to choose what we do with that moment. Will we stress over it? Will we complain over it? Will we be thankful for it?

Think of your moments this way. The moments come to us as a gift. All are gifts from our Father, and all are very different. At first sight some of these moments look very rough. But, when we choose to be thankful, consciously choose this, even say it out loud, “Lord, thank you for this moment,” the moment transforms. If it was a good moment, then the goodness of it multiplies. If it was a challenging moment, then it is now bathed in grace and we can, perhaps, see more clearly why God sent it to us. When we are unthankful, our eyes are clouded to the real potential of every moment.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Here Paul doesn’t say “everything,” but he says, “all things.” So, the theme is the same. God does not divide our moments into good and bad. All moments are gifts, sent to us, ordained by God for His purpose. These moments may not always look good, but they always work for your good.

The Real Magic

As children we were taught that “please and thank you,” were the “magic words.” They unlocked things!  If the simple utterance of, “thank you,” can change a stressful moment into a moment full of grace, then that certainly is something special. When you think of gratitude this way, then you have to admit that stressing out really is a choice. You are allowing your mind and heart to think of your moments as bad things.

Ask yourself this the next time you start to feel stressed. Did God send me this moment? Did God ordain this moment for me? Do I believe Romans 8:28? Yes, yes and yes! Then you can be grateful. Even if it is a tragedy, even if it is painful, you can thank the Lord for what He is teaching you. You can ask Him to open your eyes to the grace of the moment so that you can learn something new and grow closer to Him.

Gratitude transforms everything into grace. And yes, we CAN learn to be thankful in a stressful world!

Sarah Reeves

You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.

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