Cultivating a heart of thanksgiving doesn’t happen automatically. It’s an intentional process that requires diligent stewardship and strategic attention. It’s God’s will for us to give thanks in everything—even when things don’t make sense. These five beauty secrets remind us to trust God’s heart even when we don’t understand His hand.
Reflect often on the journey that brought you to where you are with God.
For just a moment, or even longer, think about your life journey and how faithful God is. For many, the current stretch of road may seem more challenging. I don’t know your story, but a few of my mountains are higher in this season, some valleys are lower, and occassionally the terrain appears flat and endless. Yet, God is still God—He hasn’t changed. He has always met me in my challenging seasons to remind me He’s always with me. He came through in the last clutch situation I found myself in. He covered me, protected me, and provided for me. Yes, He’s still that good.
The same God that got me here will get me there—wherever there happens to be. The same power that transformed my last situation will reveal itself in this one. The same love that sustained me this far on the journey—through infertility, job loss, a failed marriage and job transitions—is sufficient to love me through this one.
How about you? As you reflect on your own journey, how have you seen the Lord keep you? Are you stronger because of it? If so, thank Him for it.
2. Remember you're surrounded by a host of others who share the journey.
Remember that we are not alone. On the days when life doesn’t feel purpose-filled or intentional, it can feel lonely, daunting, and ambiguous. We are not on this journey without help or empathy. The beginning verses of Hebrews 12 remind us of the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and whose testimonies surround us. Beyond that are the myriad of believers in Christ who are also on the journey with us. Best of all, Hebrews 4:15 tells me that our Savior Jesus is intimately acquainted with our sufferings and empathizes with our weakness. In short, He gets it!
I don’t talk enough to others about the challenges I face, so I may not know that others are on the same journey or in the fight with me. It can leave me feeling like no one understands. If I’m really disconnected, I can be fooled into thinking that no one cares. Neither of those perceptions are true.
Sometimes, just opening my mouth and my heart to share my pain, confusion, or disappointment is the catalyst for more insight and better perspective. It’s then I find people who can encourage and help me find my voice of thanksgiving in my situation.
The key point of this beauty secret is to remember I’m surrounded. That’s the beauty and the power—I’m surrounded by love, by friends, prayer, and by power. I can give thanks for that everyday! Who surrounds you? Do they know it? #VoiceOfThanksgiving
3. Remind yourself of the temporal nature of situations—no matter how long they last.
I often need an prompt to remember this beauty secret for life. Why? In the moment, nothing feels temporal or temporary? Things feel hard. I feel hurt. I can feel angry.
Second Corinthians 4:17 reminds me that these light, momentary afflictions [the tough spaces of life] are preparing for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. So the job issues, family challenges, broken relationships don’t compare with the glory and blessing to come. In the moment, however, my mind isn’t focused on a greater glory. I’m processing my stuff. I’m turned inward. I’m self-focused, self-centered, and I struggle.
I appreciate the role of mindfulness and being present. Those concepts and behaviors are valuable. As a believer in Christ, I need to be focused upward and forward. Colossians 3:2 challenges me to direct my mind to things above. When my thoughts are focused above—on God’s capacity and His willingness to love me and save me—I can more easily navigate temporal and temporary terrain.
Having my focus right keeps me from ruminating over the questions that invite struggle like “How long?” and “Are we there yet?” It’s easier to give thanks and maintain a mindset of thankfulness when my focus is on God.
So the prompt might be time in God’s Word, an encouraging word from a friend, or pausing long enough to remember that Jesus is Immanuel—God with us.
4. Talk aloud and/or write about what God is doing in your life.
It can bring refreshing to my soul to do this! Sometimes I have to intentionally remind myself of the nuances of what God has done in my life. It’s wonderful when I get to slow down and share my story over coffee, a long lunch, or a blog post.
Build in time to share the details of how God has moved on your behalf. We often toss the big chunks of our stories to others while we’re on the go. The beauty of making time to talk aloud and go deep is in the detail of sharing the thoughts, feelings, and little moments that get lost when we’re hurried and rushed.
If we can add the layer of writing our stories, we can gain even more benefit from the introspection and parsing out details. As we share our stories, we can give thanks to God along the way. Sharing our stories aloud amplifies our thanksgiving and encourages hope in others. #AmplifyYourStory
5. Read stories of How God has moved in the lives of others
I find incredible joy in this practice. It isn’t just about reading the stories in the Bible. It’s about reflecting on what it means to stay with God on a journey that (sometimes) is difficult, feels painful, and seems hopeless. It’s watching God’s faithfulness over the long haul toward those He loves. It’s pondering the devotion of committed believers through difficult circumstances. It’s trusting that the triumph God demonstrates in the lives of others will show up in my life, too.
So, read! Read your Bible. Read biographies. Read history. Read current events. Look for God’s hand. More importantly, watch for His heart. Celebrate His power and goodness. What do you know about Him because of what you’ve read? Give thanks with a grateful heart for all He does. Remember His lovingkindness; then, give thanks again.
The practice of giving thanks and looking for God’s heart in all of our situations positions us to be shaped by God in beautiful ways. I pray the holiday season finds your heart full of love and gratitude that has been cultivated in His presence.
Stay close to Him; Live beautiful!