A woman had this simple but telling epitaph etched onto her husband’s tombstone—“He always appreciated.” One very important goal that we should have is to live our lives in appreciation for all that God has so graciously given us and the abundance that he pours into our lives every day. The Bible often urges us to give thanks to God. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. We must learn to develop an attitude of gratitude.
1 Thess.5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
First of all, this Scripture says that we should always be rejoicing. Paul the apostle wrote these words. He also wrote Phil.4:4, which says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” What is remarkable about this repetitive reminder to rejoice at all times is that it was written from a prison cell. If anyone had an excuse not to rejoice it would have been Paul! But he knew something that we ought to know also—true joy does not depend on our circumstances. Circumstances are constantly changing, from good to bad or vice versa. But the Lord’s goodness to us abides continually, and therefore we should always maintain a joyful, worshipful mindset that is an important part of an attitude of gratitude.
Along with rejoicing always, we are urged to pray continually. A prayerful outlook on life is a logical expression of the joy that we have in the Lord. A lifestyle of prayer is evidence of one who truly appreciates the Lord and wants to have an on-going conversation with the One who loves them so much. And, of course, thanksgiving will be an important part of our prayers to God. We shouldn’t start to pray and immediately go to our long list of wants and desires. Prayer should begin with worship and thanksgiving. We have so much for which to be thankful! Let’s not short-change the Lord with our prayers. May they be filled with honest, heartfelt gratitude.
Finally, the above Scripture encourages us to give thanks in all circumstances. No matter what happens to us in life, we always have reasons to give thanks to God, especially for the salvation that we have been given through the crucified and resurrected Jesus! God promises that one day our pain will be taken away forever and every tear will be wiped dry. There certainly are times when we especially long for that day to appear, but until it does, we must give thanks in all circumstances, because, as the verse says, this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.
The story is told about a Bible college professor who was driving along the highway with his wife when they were involved in a serious accident. When the professor regained consciousness, he looked over to see that the emergency responders were covering up his wife’s body. He knew that she was dead and that he might soon be dead too. He quickly turned to the person tending to him and said, “Make sure that my students get this message—“Rom.8:28 is still true!”
Of course we know what Rom.8:28 says—“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Even in the worst tragedy, God can work to make something good come out of it. And the fact that we trust God to do this enables us to give thanks no matter what the circumstances.
So let’s always be working to develop an attitude of gratitude. Let’s rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks to God—no matter what!