The Gift of Gratitude

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication 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.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

I’ve never been good at writing thank-you notes.

As a kid, I would procrastinate writing them after birthdays and holidays because the task seemed a little daunting—just looking at the stack of cards waiting to be filled with ink would make my hand cramp. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful for the gifts. I simply would rather spend time playing with those new gifts than thanking the people who gave them to me.

I know that’s horrible…but an honest 10-year-old Rachel would have told you the same thing.

However, something switched in me when I actually practiced enough discipline to sit down and write those notes. I realized as I wrote them not only how grateful I was for the gift, but also how glad I was for the relationship from which it came. I realized how much effort might have gone into choosing the gift, the money that went into buying the gift, and the anticipation with which the gift was sent and the response anticipated. If I had failed to sit down and spend time thanking people, I would have missed out on a lot of humbling gladness.

Physically practicing thanks and gratitude made me far more grateful and glad for the gifts I’d been given and the people who gave them to me. The gratitude in and of itself was a gift. Without it, I would have missed out on realizing the significance behind these gifts, though it had been there the whole time. I’ve realized lately practicing gratitude to God lands me in a similar place.

God provides for us in ways we could never deserve. He gives us gifts far better than what we could ever expect or even ask from Him. His gifts, whether they come through moments of sheer happiness or through trials, through practical provision or human relationships, through emotional comfort or spiritual growth, often abound regardless of our acknowledgment of them. When we practice acknowledging his gifts, what changes is not the fact that God is good, but our increased awareness of how good He is to us.

A few weeks ago, Zach preached that gratefulness results in gladness, which in turn spurs more notice of God’s goodness. It’s an upward spiral of thankfulness that enlightens our view of God

and heightens our awareness of the gifts he’s made available for us, from our salvation to our relationships to the cappuccino I just finished.

As Thanksgiving has come and gone, I pray we may remember gratitude is not seasonal, but a gift always available to practice and receive from God. Finding concrete ways to thank God, whether by journaling his gifts, reflecting on them with a small group, or simply saying a short prayer in the moments we notice God’s abundant generosity in our lives, allows God space to remind us of his faithfulness and goodness. Gratitude is the gift of recognizing the rest of his gifts. I pray we together seek to offer God our thanks this season and in the coming seasons, always giving him the space to remind us of the blessed perspective in which we get to live, thanks to his generosity.

 

Rachel Smith, New City Stories Contributor