By Alexis A. Goring, Crosswalk.com
When my maternal grandma was living, she’d sometimes tell me, “Gratitude will change your attitude. Take inventory of your blessings.”
It’s important to count our blessings, not our burdens, because what we focus on will take our attention and shape the way we see our lives.
If we’re always looking only at everything that’s wrong in our lives, it weighs heavy on our hearts. Our outlooks can shift to doom and gloom, leading to depression and we may not even want to get out of bed in the morning. However, if we focus on the good in our lives, that will uplift our minds and help us see how God is—and always has been—working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Recognizing the positive things leads to happiness and a healthy outlook on life. Being grateful is not just good advice from my maternal grandma. God advises us to give thanks with a grateful heart because He is good and His love endures forever (Psalm 107:1-3).
God knows that the enemy attacks our minds and fills them with dark and depressing thoughts. They can be so heavy that all hope seems lost. But God has not left us defenseless. Instead, He’s given us a battle plan in His Word. One strategy to win the war is found in Philippians 4:8 (KJV): “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
There’s much pain, trauma, trials, and suffering in this world. We have plenty to be concerned about and there’s no shortage of burdens. When we learn how to cast our cares on Jesus (1 Peter 5:7) and then consider God’s gifts, we can begin to overcome the evil here on earth (Romans 12:21). It’s not easy to do this, but with God’s help, we can do anything (Philippians 4:13)! One practical way to do this is to practice gratitude.
Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, challenges readers to write down a thousand things that inspire thankfulness. This exercise takes time, and she encourages readers to practice by daily counting their blessings. I accepted this “Gratitude Challenge” and started writing in what I now call my “Gratitude Journal” several times a month.
My first entry was “Rainy Days” and item #2 was “Birds Singing.” The list continued with “pure joy,” “my mom,” “my grandmother”, “my friends” and “my favorite radio station.” I paused once I reached number 150, but returned to the list days, weeks, and sometimes months later. After seven years of participating in this challenge, I wrote gratitude #1,000: God’s love.
Intentionally remembering God’s gifts wasn’t easy, but it was worth it! Some days, I felt discouraged and weighed down by the world. But each time I focused on my blessings, my perspective shifted. I went from sad to smiling and felt like my burdens were lifted. This practice of counting my blessings instead of burdens increased my thankfulness for all God has done and continues to do in my life.
This world is not perfect, which means we’ll always have pain and problems. Being a Christian doesn’t mean your life will be free of hurt. Our issues are valid, but God will help us through it. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to remember that this planet is not our home. Perhaps the greatest blessing we have is the hope of eternal life with our God who loves us with all of His heart!
Next time you’re feeling discouraged, try the Gratitude Challenge as well. It may change your own view of life as it did for me.
Let’s Pray: Dear God, Help us to count our blessings, not our burdens. Thank You for being a Wonderful Counselor. Thank You that Your love for me and all humankind endures forever. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to save us in Your Kingdom. Teach us how gratitude can change our attitude as we continue to walk close to You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Julia_Sudnitskaya
Alexis A. Goring is an author, blogger, editor, photographer, trained journalist, and total foodie. She specializes in Contemporary Christian Romance (fiction) and devotionals (nonfiction). Her first devotional book, Stories and Songs of Faith: My Journey with God, was published in April 2020. Alexis hopes that her life’s work will lead people to Jesus Christ and teach them about the God who loves humankind with all of His heart. When she’s not sharing words that inspire and encourage the heart, you can find her in the kitchen cooking up something tasty, or in a café or restaurant, either dining solo or sharing a meal with loved ones. Connect with Alexis online via her website (https://alexisagoring.