Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman statesman, once said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” In other words, gratitude (or thankfulness) is necessary to live a virtuous life. While I believe that living a virtuous life is certainly a worthy goal, living a life that pleases God is far paramount even to being virtuous.
Over and over in Scripture, we are not just implored to a life of thankfulness, we are commanded to be thankful. All throughout the New Testament, we find verses like the following:
… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:18
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
— Colossians 3:15
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, — Hebrews 12:28
Over many years of attempting to walk with Christ, I have learned that God never asks us to do something that is not possible. Any time we see a commandment in Scripture, we can be certain it is possible for us to achieve what is being required of us.
It seems that many (if not most) people struggle with being thankful, not because their circumstances do not allow for thanksgiving, but because their perception does not allow for gratitude. In order to for us to feel a sense of thankfulness, changing our circumstances is not nearly as important as changing the way in which we view our circumstances.
It is said that Matthew Henry (a theologian of another era) had the following journal entry:
“Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he didn’t not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
That is the kind of perspective that we should train ourselves to have. If we can train ourselves to have that kind of perspective, the kind that finds the blessings even in the undesirable, than we can discover the joy of being thankful always, in all circumstances, for our good and God’s glory.
As you go through your day today, look to change your perspective about the events of the day. Commit yourself to find the blessings in even the most difficult of circumstances, and be thankful!