We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers (1 Thessalonians 1:2, esv).
Name one thing you “always” find yourself doing, something that’s “constantly” part of your day.
How often would giving thanks be an honest answer to that?
Maybe you’re constantly on the phone. Or constantly busy, constantly working. Perhaps you’re always thinking about the future, planning for what you hope will happen next. You may feel glued to the news, or forever picking up after your kids, or continually stuck in traffic trying to get home. What are your always things?
According to Scripture, one of the most important always/constantly things is to be thankful. Not a sappy, rose-colored denial of reality, nor an attempt to keep from admitting life can be hard and upsetting. To give thanks always and constantly is to maintain an overall, ongoing attitude of thanksgiving — because gratitude is the attitude that sets the altitude for living. Thankfulness is often the difference between being overwhelmed by what just happened and excited for what’s ahead.
Yes… this kind of heart and mind can be exceedingly difficult to maintain. Not everything is easy to be happy about. Not every week comes equipped with enough suitable “gratitude” material to work with. But one of Paul’s secrets is how he deliberately thanked God “always for all of you.” In order to stay constantly thankful, you should routinely be giving thanks for the people in your life.
All the people in your life.
Not just your favorite people, who are so much fun to be around, but also those whose names you don’t particularly enjoy seeing pop up on your phone. Not just your most encouraging leaders and coworkers, but also those who push you beyond your comfort zone. Not just people from your own generation or culture, but also those who may be harder to get to know and understand. Not just your closest friends and family members, but also those who feel like your enemies.
Relationships sour when we focus on faults; they flourish when we keep the thankfulness fire burning. Few things come easier than noticing and rehashing the parts of someone else’s comments or personality style that make them almost intolerable to deal with.
To be the kind of person you truly want to be, you must constantly stay reminded that God is sovereign, in total control of everything. Nothing comes into your life that He doesn’t allow; nothing comes into your life that He won’t transform into something for your good. That is why you can be thankful for how God is using your boss, brother-in-law, mom, former spouse — difficult and demanding though they may be — to shape you into the person you’d have never become otherwise.
Few things dilute or drain our hope more quickly than ungratefulness. That’s why you can never miss a day. Do it always. And never miss an opportunity. Do it for everybody.
Lord, You are good not to make my life as easy as possible. You are good to bring people and circumstances across my path that help strengthen my heart, deepen my trust, and prepare me for what You know is coming next. Help me stay more humble through this current season than the last, and through this coming season than now, always growing in gratitude for You and for the people who share the road with me. Show me how to stay thankful, in Jesus’ name, amen.