Woman holding gift
Mind,  Soul

Give thanks with a joyful heart


Since it’s Thanksgiving week in the USA, this has been the theme all over social media, Bible apps and on my mind.

I often wonder if God looks down on us and shakes his head sadly wondering: “Why are my children always so disheartened and discouraged? How can they be so blind to all the wonders around them?”

This excellent commercial by Dove illustrates my point:

It’s human nature to look around us and see what we don’t have. We see lack. We focus on what is missing in the picture instead of being overwhelmed by what is in the picture. We compare ourselves to what we think is perfect in the lives of others and we feel unworthy. We think that if God has blessed someone else there are not enough blessings for us. In the meantime, everyone struggles, everyone has faults and failings. Everyone is fighting a battle.

This feeling of lack leads to worry, which leads to stress, which in turn leads to anxiety and fear. For this reason, our western society is the most medicated in the history of civilization. We are so anxious and afraid all of the time.

What is the antidote?

According to Dr. Gregory Jantzgratitude is an antidote for fear. Fear focuses on all the things that could go wrong. Gratitude focuses on all the things that have gone right. When our gratitude is based upon the power and promises of God, we have an abundance of things that have gone right!”

When we live in fear, we are constantly waiting for things to go wrong.

In contrast, if we live a life of gratitude, we are constantly filled with thankfulness for all the blessings we have already received. We are able to anticipate being blessed even more.

Gratitude is the antidote to fear.

2 Corinthians 9:8. God blesses us abundantly.

Read that again: God is able to bless us abundantly so that we have all that we need!

There are more than enough blessings and goodness for every one of his children.

If gratitude replaces fear, what is the result?

Its not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful. David Steindl-Rast

Joy!

The result of being perpetually aware of all the blessings in your life is lavish joy.

Brene’ Brown is famous for her studies of vulnerability, shame, and connection. One of the great lessons in her books teaches about true joy. In interviews and in her book Daring Greatly, she explains that she has never met a participant who experienced a joyful life, that did not practice gratitude. She is famously quoted for saying “There is no joy without gratitude.”

One of the aspects of joy that she discusses in her book that really struck a chord with me was her discussion of the two sides of joy. She explains that joy is not constant. Joy comes in ordinary moments filled with gratitude. But “sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary moments.”

On the other side of the coin, joy can cause us to fear that things might “be too good to be true” or we wait for the “other shoe to drop”. Instead of enjoying the joy, we wait for it to be over. Isn’t that just a miserable way to live? Joy is found in the ordinary moments we can appreciate with gratitude.

Joy and gratitude. Brene Brown

I can undoubtedly do with a higher dose of joy my life, what about you?

Apostle Paul reminds us of the importance of gratitude in his first letter to the Thessalonians.

Give thanks in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances.

We all go through tough stuff but there is always, always something to be grateful for.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been following the #last90days challenge by Rachel Hollis and one of the five principals is to write down five things you are grateful for every day. Although I have not been a saint and only do this every couple of days, it has opened my eyes to all the wonderful blessings in my life, and, yes, my heart is undoubtedly more joyful.

So, start celebrating your own personal Thanksgiving every day. Take your journal/notebook/note app and start jotting down what fills your heart with thankfulness. Don’t go big but keep it simple. Some of the things I’ve written down include a cool shower after a long hot day or enjoying a milkshake with my husband on a Sunday afternoon. These are blessings that create joyful moments, which strung together, flourish into a joyful life.

For today’s post, I include a more comedic song that I hope will bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!


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