We have spent a considerable amount of time discussing the need for a grateful or thankful heart, and I’ve even dedicated a few blog posts throughout the history of this weblog to teachings on why it is important to have a grateful heart. Today however, we will discuss how we go about having a grateful heart, and we will do so in no more than three steps.
I have often wondered, if only to myself what makes some individuals perpetually unthankful and ungrateful, always searching for more of this world, coveting everything their neighbors possess while simultaneously declaring to all who would hear that they themselves have nothing, and what makes others thankful and content with the blessings God has already bestowed upon them.
I have had the privilege of knowing thankful people throughout my life, those who perhaps were not what we would consider ‘blessed’ from a worldly perspective, but who were rich in the Lord, and I have also had the misfortune of knowing ungrateful and unthankful individuals who having more possessions than the average person still considered themselves stricken, underwhelmed with the bountiful blessings that God bestowed upon them on a daily basis.
So how do we come to have a grateful heart? How can we be thankful to God for the little things, the things we take for granted, or the things we feel as though we are entitled to?
The first step toward having a grateful or a thankful heart is to recognize the dangers of being unthankful and ungrateful.
Romans 1:20-21, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Yes, there is a danger in having an ungrateful and unthankful heart, because these are not destinations in and of themselves, but road signs toward becoming futile in our thoughts, and having darkened hearts. Being unthankful, being ungrateful are symptoms of an underlying disease that turns men’s hearts away from God once it reaches maturity.
When we do not acknowledge that all things come from God, we begin to believe that it is by our ingenuity, prowess, excellence or will that we’ve accomplished, achieved or accumulated all that we have in this present life, and so we no longer glorify God, nor are thankful toward Him. Our thoughts become futile, we start believing that we can readily declare our independence from God without consequence, that we can turn our backs on Him without any aftereffect, and so our hearts are darkened, and professing to be wise we become nothing more than fools.
There is a strength that comes from the constant acknowledgement and recognition that God is the source of all blessing, there is a strength that comes from having a grateful and thankful heart, and in the difficult days ahead, this knowledge and certainty that God is in control will keep us from growing fearful, uncertain or reactionary like much of the world will be.
If God is my provider, what have I to fear? If God is my provision, what have I to worry about? It is from His hand that all blessing comes, and knowing that He is a good Father I know that He will provide.
The second step toward having a thankful or grateful heart is by learning to thank God for the little things, those things we take for granted or overlook on a daily basis.
One of the greatest examples of a thankful heart, even when being thankful wasn’t easy is Job. Here is a man who had everything, then lost everything, and eventually ended up sitting in the midst of some ashes, scraping himself with a potsherd, and it is at this lowest moment of his existence that his wife comes to him not only mocking his integrity but encouraging him to curse God and die.
Job 2:10, “But he said to her, ‘you speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
Here was a man who understood that all things come from God, and whether blessing or adversity there is a higher purpose than what we can presently see. In all that he endured Job did not sin with lips, he did not sin against God, because he had a thankful heart, he had a grateful heart and he understood that the source of all he’d had and lost was not in himself, but rather in the God that he served.
The third step toward having a thankful or grateful heart is to understand and perceive the ways in which God uses adversity and difficulty to grow us spiritually.
Admittedly this is the most difficult step of all, because none of us like adversity, and in the midst of it, it is difficult to see the plan of God, but we must believe with all our heart that God has a plan nevertheless. Yes, in our adversity, in our hardship, in our lack, God has a plan, He sees beyond today into tomorrow, and sees what we will become once we traverse the valley of hardship with faithfulness and steadfastness. God’s desire is to mature us as individuals; it is to grow us spiritually that we might be useful to His kingdom and His plan for our lives.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Yes, this is an often quoted verse, but just because it is often quoted it does not take away from the truth it possesses. All things work together for good to those who love God, and this we know. We don’t assume, we don’t think, we know that all things work together for good, and this gives us comfort, and peace, and a thankful heart even in the midst of hardship and affliction.
Being thankful, being grateful, possessing a thankful and grateful heart is not an obligation but rather a privilege. Yes, possessing a thankful and grateful heart is possessing the privilege of seeing this present reality, this present life from an eternal perspective. We are passing through this life, and whatever chiseling and molding we might have to endure in order to obtain the life to come is necessary, and as such we must be ever grateful to God for loving us enough to mold and chisel us.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.