Choosing gratitude

Written by Grace Thomas
Published on November 10, 2023

“Ok, let’s all say what we’re grateful for,” my dad smiles in delight. It’s Thanksgiving Day, and we’re continuing our annual tradition. We slowly work around the room as each friend and family shares what they’re thankful for, things like “food, health, and God.” 

But this year, it’s different; it’s the first time I’m a mom. Yes, I’m grateful for my son, maternity leave, and God’s promises, but I have had so many moments of frustration this year. How can I be thankful during postpartum anxiety? How can I be grateful for my changing body? I need to combat my frustrations with God’s truths. 

But how do we recognize the nuance of gratitude in tough situations? How do we encourage our families to be grateful in a culture of entitlement? We need truths to sustain us beyond the Thanksgiving season. Here are three biblical examples of believers who practiced gratitude—even in tough times. 

1.   Gratitude despite our location

Daniel 6:10 tells us that Daniel prayed and thanked God, despite being taken from his homeland. He continued a habit of prayer, even when threatened. He humbly got down on his knees and prayed three times a day. Even if we’re not surrounded by family or friends this season, we can still offer a prayer of thanks. Thankfulness is not determined by our circumstances or by our location. 

2.   Gratitude despite our circumstances

Another believer who demonstrated gratitude was Paul. He and some men were shipwrecked for fourteen days. They were devastated and wanted to end their lives. Paul urged them to eat and still gave thanks to God, despite their suffering, “After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat” (Acts 27:35 NIV). Paul still found something to be grateful for in the middle of the storm. We can offer thanks to God even when others discourage us. We can offer up thanks and trust in God’s unchanging character instead of our changing circumstances. 

3.   Gratitude despite longing

In 1 Samuel 2, we see Hannah give thanks for a son after years of barrenness and mistreatment from her servant. “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:1–2 ESV). Hannah delights in God’s salvation and finds joy in his character. What percentage of your prayers are praise? Maybe you’re prone to focus more on petition than praise, like myself. Maybe there are areas of your life where you have seen God work, even after painful times. Have we taken time to give thanks for answered prayers? 

Yes, gratitude is hard. Yes, it’s not always easy, but it’s a sacrifice, one that is for our good and his glory. With the reminders of Biblical figures, we too can offer up thanks during trying times. Psalm 50:14 says, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” We’re reminded that our gratitude is an intentional offering to God—regardless of what we do or don’t have. Don’t let this season slip by without choosing to give thanks. 

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Grace Thomas

Grace Thomas is a Christ-follower, wife, and mother with a desire to apply the gospel to her everyday life. She teaches, serves at her church, and enjoys living in California. You can connect with her on Instagram, her blog, or through email.

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