I felt immensely thankful. The situation that had preyed on my mind for so long had finally been resolved. I deeply appreciated the efforts of everyone who had contributed to the resolution of my problem and, above all, I poured out my gratitude to God for making it happen.
It’s easy to be grateful when circumstances turn out well, but thankfulness doesn’t have to be limited just to the good times. Not only is it possible to be thankful in difficulties, it’s also beneficial. Thankful people cope better than those who grumble and complain. How, then, do we develop an attitude of gratitude when life is tough? The letters of "gratitude" give us some clues.
Give praise to God at all times.
Praise takes your focus off yourself and places it on Him. Despite our changing circumstances, He never changes, so we can always praise Him for who He is.
Remember what God has done.
Bringing to mind some of the things God has done in the past can be a stimulus to offer gratitude for what He is doing now and will do in the future.
Always be thankful.
God’s will for us involves giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). If we want our lives to be in line with God’s will for us, let’s be thankful – always!
Trust God completely.
This can be one of the hardest things to do when life is difficult. Not knowing why something is happening or how long it’s likely to continue can challenge even the deepest faith. However, God cautions us about leaning on our own understanding and invites us to trust Him wholeheartedly (Prov. 3:5).
Intentionally choose your attitude.
There are many things that are beyond our control, but choosing our attitude is something we can control. Why not exercise that choice today?
Think before you grumble and complain.
A grumbling and complaining attitude can so easily become the default response to situations that we don’t like. Instead, think “attitude of gratitude.”
Understand that attitudes are learned.
It takes time to develop a consistent attitude of gratitude, so don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t happen immediately.
Develop friendships with positive, encouraging people.
Attitudes are contagious and, sometimes unconsciously, we take on how other people feel about a situation. We need to surround ourselves with grateful people who will encourage us to do likewise.
Enjoy God’s blessings.
Ever tried naming specific ways that God has blessed you? Write these down, perhaps beginning with three, moving on to ten, twenty, or even more! Make these a focus for regularly thanking God, updating your list as time goes on.
In addition to these suggestions, we can also foster an attitude of gratitude by observing how others respond to various circumstances in their lives. One of my friends was widowed in her early thirties and had to raise three children on her own. Life was often lonely and difficult. She got into the habit of questioning negative experiences by asking, “What can I learn from this? How does God want me to respond?” Despite her problems, this teachable outlook helped her face many situations with thankfulness.
Another friend is currently very ill with widespread cancer, and I am continually encouraged by her attitude. She never complains that life is unfair and constantly acknowledges God’s persistent goodness. Her thankful heart in the midst of a debilitating disease is truly an inspiration.
Having an attitude of gratitude is not a denial of unpleasant circumstances, nor is it a response that only a few people can demonstrate. It’s a matter of choice. We can choose to be grateful and reap the related benefits or we can choose to gripe and give way to negativity. In both the good and bad experiences of life, I want my choice to be a consistent attitude of gratitude. How about you?