The Attitude of Gratitude

by Laurie Snyman
 
The Bible tells the story of our distant cousins, the Israelites who were led out of bondage in Egypt by God’s own hand on a journey to the promised land. In spite of all the amazing and miraculous events that saved their lives as they dragged their baggage out of Egypt, they yearned to return to bondage and oppression.
 
They grumbled, murmured and complained.  Like a fighting couple, they blamed, they whined, and they put up walls that blinded their view of the wonderful things God was doing for them. Like an abused spouse, their fear of the future kept them in the mindset of slavery.
 
The Israelites wandered, thinking that it was their enemies who stood in the way of the Promised Land. But it wasn’t their enemies. God had solved that for them. It was their ungrateful attitude that kept them going in circles in the wilderness. (See Numbers 11.)
All they needed to do be was to be positive and thankful for their deliverance .
 
Now, think about the things in your life that you were so excited about when God first blessed you. You prayed for an education, a car, that apartment or house, a job, a Christian spouse, a new friend, a baby. Our mighty God granted some or all of the wishes you prayed for.  But are they the very things that you are tempted to complain about today?

Some of the biggest battles, as I was growing up, occurred in my house on Sabbath morning when we were getting ready to go to church. We are told that when we grumble, fret or scold, in our homes, we open the door for evil angels to enter our homes. {Adventist Home, E. G. White, p 441.3}

Ministry spouses, it is my experience that it takes prayer, faith and persevering effort to maintain a grateful and thankful attitude. Here is a plan to find power in your life. The best way to start each day is with gratitude and thanksgiving. As we are so busy cultivating an attitude of being grateful for the blessings of our lives, we have no time to notice the things we could complain about.

We need HELP to turn our attitudes around, don’t we? We can find this help in Scripture. There are commands on being thankful and grateful:

  • Psalms 107:1
    O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever.
  • Lamentations 3:23
    ..they are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness.
  • Ephesians 5:20
    Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ …
  • 1 Thess. 5:18
    And whatever we do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  
  • Psalm 136:1
    Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  • Eph. 1:16
    Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. 
  • Ephesians 5:20
    Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…
  • Psalm 100:1-5
    …Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.
  • Acts 24:3
    In every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18
    In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  

God doesn't need our thanks. Some people picture God as demanding thanks and recognition, almost like an insecure person who insists on being recognized. God is omnipotent and therefore doesn't need our acknowledgement but He knows that we need to see how much we have been given.
 
We need to acknowledge our dependence on God. It strengthens our Faith. It acknowledges who is in control of our life.

Even Jesus, who was a part of the Godhead, was thankful and often thanked God for what He was given:

  • when He healed Lazarus, Jesus prayed, ‘Thank you, Father that You have heard Me.’
  • at the feeding of the 5000, Jesus stopped and gave thanks, at each course of the meal
  • When Jesus knew He was going to the cross, and despite it, He stopped and gave thanks to His Heavenly Father.

We have all had Israelite moments but when we remember the manna God gave us, we will be encouraged.
 
Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “If there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” And he isn’t saying this passively but rather he’s indicating to put some effort into it! We need to do as God has asked us. To thank Him in all things and to think about things that are worthy of praise is for our mental health.

Christians are to be happy not because of what is going on in our lives but because of Who we believe in. Our eyes are not to be on ourselves but on Christ. Our eyes are not to be focused on this world but on the world to come. We know that lasting happiness will be realized only in the new earth (Rev. 21).
 
Ministry spouses can experience a sense of well-being and gratefulness, whether their constituency meetings are volatile, whether a beloved elder in their church dies or their child is being mistreated by another child.  Since we know that God has blessed us in numerous ways, He still directs our life and loves us unconditionally.
 
Give thanks in all things is not only a command; it is a huge help to our attitude and well-being.
 

Laurie Snyman is a licensed social worker with a practice called Awakenings Family Therapy in Lansing, MI. She also assists the Ministerial Director in the Michigan Conference (her husband of almost 37 years, Royce Snyman). Laurie is the author of the marriage workbook Getting Ready For the Rest of Your Life.