Feeling down and bitter? Look up and give thanks.

Our thoughts can influence our direction and momentum. Therefore, choose gratitude to reframe your circumstances and redirect out of your rut.

I’ve been in a couple of jobs where things just seemed to be stagnant; and that was only when they weren’t going sideways. In one job specifically, there were rumors of layoffs and mergers, and the future of my position was in jeopardy. And when you’re already in a job that you dread, stuff like that just piles on. I would go to work feeling bitter and discouraged, asking God why he wasn’t moving me, in spite of my attempts to apply for other jobs. Finally, after several months of frustration, I decided to change my attitude. I began thanking him for my job and doing the best I could. Shortly after that, a new job opened up that I was hired for and I was able to move. Coincidence? Could be, but I doubt it.

In hindsight, my bitterness and resentment about my circumstances only served to amplify my downward spiral, and then keep me down in a pit of despair. When I was in that pit of my own self-pity and resentment, I was a burden to my family. I was not fun to be around. And it prolonged my misery. Zig Ziglar, in his book Over The Top talks about this. He says “momentum is involved in every facet of life, on both a positive and negative plane. When the momentum is downhill, it is fueled by downhill thinking. One negative thought breeds another, which breeds another, until you have an entire family of negative thoughts. When you get enough of them, PLOM disease moves in and takes control.” (page 118) (PLOM = Poor Little Old Me)

To prevent this, the apostle Paul instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) In his letter to the Ephesians, he tell us to be “filled with the Spirit…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father.” (Ephesians 5:18-20) It must be important, since he mentions it at least twice to two different groups of people. It also is refreshing to realize that we weren’t the only ones to struggle with this issue. People back in the ancient days had the same challenge.

Merlin Carothers, in his timeless book Power in Praise expands on these verses by saying that “God will [deliver] us, if we choose to trust him, standing firm in faith, believing it is done. Whatever circumstances come into our lives, we are to praise and thank God for them, because they are His way of working out His perfect plan for us. The circumstances are His way of removing the dross, purifying us, and giving us a willing heart.” (page 123)

Finally, one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture is Philippians 4:6-7. Here, Paul gives us hope by encouraging us to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We are not to worry about our circumstances. We are to thank God for them as we pray and petition him for changes.

With that said, being grateful and practicing appreciation is choice. And sometimes, it’s a tough choice. Let’s face it: when things are not the way we want, when we are encountering resistance or difficulty, it’s hard to appreciate those circumstances. Actually, let’s rephrase that to “it’s harder” to appreciate those times.

The good news is that being grateful is also a muscle that can be strengthened and evolve into a habit. Here are three tips to get started:

  1. Make a list of all of the blessings in your life right now for which you can give thanks. This is probably the low-lying fruit, like your family. Your health. Your home. Your car. Your pantry. Your job.
  2. Make a list of the top three challenges in your life right now and find at least one thing within that challenge for which you can be thankful. For example, if you hate your job, remember that God can and will use it for good in your life. So look at it from His perspective and try to see what that could be. Maybe it’s patience with a coworker. Maybe it’s endurance. Maybe He’s trying to teach you to trust Him. If you are unable to find the silver lining, then confess that to Him and ask Him to reveal it to you. It might sound like this: “God, thank you for this trial I am currently in. I don’t know why I am going through this, but I know you love me and that you are using it to make me better. Thank you for that and please show me what that is so that I can accept it and embrace it easier.”
  3. Now, and before you go to bed tonight, pray over the two lists you’ve created and thank God for all of it.
  4. Review your lists and thank God each day for the next 10 days.

For your advantage,

Brian

Is being grateful and appreciative easy or hard for you? Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences with this.

 

PS–the book links on this page are affiliate links. All that means is that if you click on the link and buy that book, I’ll receive a small referral commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you.

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