By Debbie Petras
I want to ask you a question. Let’s be honest. When you review your day, what usually stands out in your mind? Do you tend to remember the things that went wrong? Do you dwell on the way someone treated you unkindly? Do you grumble when things don’t go the way you expect? Do you envy those who seem to have life easy?
Over and over, the Bible tells us to be thankful. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to cultivate a heart of gratitude.
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (ESV)
Maybe you are struggling in this season of your life. While I don’t advocate putting blinders on to the situation you may be dealing with, I do suggest a number of ways that may help.
I’ve walked through many storms in my life. I can say with all honesty that praising God in the midst of my storms has helped get me through.
Here are a few ways I’ve learned that help me to cultivate a heart of gratitude:
1. Focus on what’s good in your life.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
One thing that has helped me is to write down my every day blessings. I may notice a beautiful sunset or a hummingbird in my garden. A child’s smile is a blessing. After a while, I find that I begin looking for those every day blessings and it changes my perspective from grumbling to praise and thankfulness to my Lord.
2. Sing and praise the Lord.
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing.” Psalm 100:1-2 (ESV)
Singing songs of praise to the Lord is another way to develop a heart of gratitude. I’ve discovered that even if I’m feeling down, praising God has such a way of helping me. It takes my mind off of many things outside of my control and places it on the only One who is truly in control.
3. Pray trusting and believing God
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
When I come before the Lord to pray, I believe that He hears me. Even though I don’t always get an answer right away, I’ve learned to trust Him and His perfect timing. He gives me His peace in the midst of uncertainty. I pour out my heart to Him.
4. Remember what Jesus has done for you
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (ESV)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)
I read my Bible and I know the end of the story. Yes, I may still go through many valleys. But I know that I have peace with God through Jesus. He saved me and loves me. I didn’t do anything to deserve it. And that gives me hope and a heart of gratitude.
So I ask you. Are you cultivating a heart of gratitude?
Debbie Petras is originally from Long Island, New York but she and her husband Greg now live in Arizona. She worked as a cardiovascular nurse for many years but currently works with preschool children. Debbie was greatly influenced by her Christian grandparents but spent many years living a life that didn’t reflect her belief in Jesus. At her grandmother’s funeral, Debbie felt the Lord speaking softly to her heart. She returned to church and began reading her Bible. Life began to change as her love for Jesus grew and began to spill over to others. Matthew 5:16 became one of her favorite Scriptures “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” She enjoys sharing her faith and writing on her blog Heart Choices as she inspires and encourages others.