I had to take a summer class during my senior year of college. It was a rough time for me because I was living by myself while my friends and family had gone home. I was feeling pretty down and only focused on the negatives around me. Then, one day I discovered an Instagram challenge called “100 Days of Happy.” My cousin had done it and recommended that I try it out. For 100 days, I had to find one thing every day that made me happy and post a picture of it online.
It was easy to take pictures when I went out and did fun things or hung out with friends. But I couldn’t find things to be happy about as easily on the normal days when I was inside by myself. So, I started to pick random things like cooking a good meal or just getting to go outside and enjoy the weather. As I forced myself to pick out random things and document them, finding something that made me happy started to get easier. After a while, it was no longer forced or random, I just felt happier.
This similar practice can be used when thinking about what we are thankful for in our lives that God’s provided. There are so many reasons to give God thanks. We should try to make an effort and show gratitude for the things we have received from him.
Maybe you currently feel like I felt that summer during my senior year. Maybe you are having a rough time with this season of life. I want to help you cultivate a practice of giving thanks to God. We will discuss seven reasons to be thankful to God no matter what, and then at the end you’ll find a free download to help you do this practically.
Seven reasons to give thanks to God
1. We can be thankful for our relationship with God
While Christianity has guiding principles and commandments that we should live by, it’s not about all what we can do on our own but what we can do with God. Christianity is the only religion that is about what God did to get to YOU. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection were both necessary to save us from sin and death. Jesus’ death and resurrection made a way for us to have a relationship with God. God did this because He loves us and wants a relationship with us. He knew we would continue to rebel against Him and that we could never be perfect, but He still made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. We should give thanks to God for this amazing gift.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39 ESV
2. We can be thankful because of everlasting life
Next, we can be thankful for everlasting life. When God resurrected Jesus from the grave, he gave us the opportunity to have everlasting life. Christ’s sacrifice is important but his resurrection is also central to our salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:17 tells us “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection were both necessary to save us from sin and death.
3. We can be thankful because of God’s grace and forgiveness
We deserved the death that Jesus suffered on our behalf but because of his sacrifice we have been forgiven. Through God’s grace we are redeemed and freed from the grip of sin on our lives.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.Ephesians 1:7 ESV
4. We can be thankful because of God’s creation
No matter where you are in the world or what you are going through, you can appreciate God’s creation. The birds in the sky, the many different flowers, trees, and landscapes. Not only can you appreciate His Creation, but you can also appreciate the fact that God made us co-rulers of creation. He loves us so much and has entrusted us to care for and protect His Creation.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.Genesis 1:28 ESV
5. We can be thankful because of God’s Word
God’s word can heal our wounds, comfort us, protect us, guide and direct us, and encourage us. God’s word (the Bible) is not ancient, out-dated, or old school thinking – in it exists truths about reality that never changes. His Word is alive and active in our lives as individuals, in our communities, and throughout generations.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 ESV
6. We can be thankful because of fellow Christians
We can be thankful for our pastors, our friends, and members of our church. God blesses us with relationships. We have our fellow Christians to be thankful for to encourage and support us in our walk with Christ.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:25-25 ESV
7. We can be thankful because we are never alone
If you don’t have fellow Christians in your life, if you don’t have friends or family, that can be really tough and I see you. You may feel you are alone or forgotten, but you always have God with you. He sees you wherever you are and knows your pain. Jesus was alone and forsaken to hang on a cross for all our transgressions. But God didn’t let him stay there, and God won’t let you either! He is for you!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9 ESV
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.Psalms 139:8 ESV
Sometimes it can feel like we have nothing to be thankful for. But there are so many reasons to give thanks to God. Sometimes you just need to start small and just choose to give thanks. Starting small can help you form habits and disciplines that can eventually change your outlook and your attitude. You can start by just being thankful for another day, or simply for the air that we breathe. I want to share something I read from Nancy Leigh Demoss’s book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy that I think fits perfectly here and puts it better than I think I can,
“If you find discouragement, depression, fear, or anxiety among your frequent companions, you may tend to attribute them to difficult or painful circumstances that surround you. But I want to suggest that as challenging as your situation or your season of life may be, your frame of mind likely has less to do with your distressing circumstances than with your need to develop a thankful heart.
How else can you explain those believers around the world— spanning from ancient times to the present day—who scrape by with less than most of us can fathom, and whose days are perpetually beset with trials and tragedy, but who nonetheless manifest irrepressible peace and joy?”
There are so many reasons to give thanks to God. I hope that this article reminds you that no matter what earthly things you may be missing or wishing you had, you have heavenly blessings that you can always be thankful for, no matter what.