Over the past few years, our world has faced international conflict, climate change and a global pandemic. But as Paul reminds us in this Bible verse about gratitude, we can always choose to be thankful, whatever our circumstances.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul writes:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Paul doesn’t say this lightly; he didn’t have an easy life. He was shipwrecked, beaten and imprisoned for his faith. Paul was also persecuted by his former friends and colleagues. He was rejected as a heretic by the Jewish religious authorities and chased out of town squares and meeting places for preaching the gospel.
He lived through immensely difficult times, and still he says, “rejoice always”.
Can we learn to be thankful in the midst of our difficult situations? Gratitude is a position of the heart, and we can choose this every day, whatever we are going through. Life is not perfect. It is not meant to be and it never will be. It is a journey and joy can be found in the journey. The secret to happiness is that we can be thankful for the little things, even when we’re riding out the storm.
So How Does Gratitude Help Us?
- We can choose to trade our emotions. Instead of festering in anxiety, jealousy, fear or whatever it might be, we can actively choose thankfulness which takes its place in our lives. By actively focusing on our positive emotions, we leave less room for the negative ones, and even if we only focus on them for a moment or two, over the course of time, it can shift our outlook entirely.
- Studies have shown that practicing gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal, and actually writing down all the things that we are thankful for, can improve sleep quality and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. They have also shown that gratitude leads to better moods and less fatigue.
- Studies have also shown that gratitude may have a protective role, teaching us to be thankful for what we have and protecting ourselves against depression. This has implications for those being bullied and with low self-esteem. Can we steer our paths away from anxiety by practicing thankfulness?
Are There Any Bible Verses About Gratitude?
In Luke 12, Jesus exhorts His followers to look at the world around them, to consider how God will meet their every material need as He does for the lilies and the birds. In verse 27 He says:
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin.”
In this way, the more we look, the more we realize God’s faithfulness and love for us.
This looking, again and again, each day of our lives, is for all of us. It is where gratitude comes from, and where joy will bubble up from. It opens our eyes to what is already in front of us.
In the Bible, Jesus gave thanks. John 6:5-11 shows that Jesus thanked God for the loaves and fish and then proceeded to (supernaturally) distribute them:
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”
In other parts of scripture, Jesus thanks God that He has hidden truths in Scripture but revealed them to children, He thanks God that He heard His prayer in asking for the healing of Lazarus and in Luke 22, Jesus gives thanks to God before the Last Supper.
These Bible verses about gratitude show us that Jesus gave thanks as He walked on earth. And as He does, so do we.
Four Ways To Practice Gratitude
- Spend more time outside in nature. Become aware of all of your senses. What can you see, smell, hear, taste, or touch? Give thanks for the natural world that surrounds you.
- Write it down. Make a list of things you are thankful for today. This gets your brain going and you will find that you are looking at things throughout the day to be thankful for. What has bought gladness to you today?
- Express your thankfulness to those around you. If something that someone has done or said has been a source of your gratitude today, tell them. Spread the gratitude further. I’ve found it’s contagious and once you start it, who knows where it will end up.
- Turn to your Bible. There are many wonderful Bible verses about gratitude that will turn your soul to God and cause thanksgiving to overflow in your heart.
Let us ask God for His help if we can’t see how to give thanks in our current situation. Even responding to Him right now is to say that you are willing to be changed. Even if the circumstances don’t change, your heart can be changed. Sometimes the circumstances of our life are out of our hands, all we can do is give thanks in all things, and ask God to change our hearts.
Gratitude illuminates what has been right there in front of us all along. It arms us against depression, illness and low self-esteem, it fills our minds with positive thoughts so there is less room for the bad. And it’s not about pretending bad things aren’t happening, it’s about making a choice to hold on to what is good. Whatever we have or do not have, we always have a choice to be thankful.
A Prayer Of Gratitude
Father, we ask that You would meet us where we are today. Help us to know that we can choose gratitude, whatever life throws at us. Teach us to be thankful. We want to learn to rejoice always and to know that whatever we go through, You are right there with us. Help us to say thank you even when it’s hard, and even if we can’t see You at work in our current situation. Amen.
If you enjoyed these Bible verses about gratitude, you may also like this post on Finding Joy.