“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:16-18
I have had the opportunity to experience many different cultures around the world. From the Romany people in the small villages that dot the Romanian countryside, to the mountain people in the Himalayan foothills of southern China, to the more wealthy cultures of Western Europe, I have noticed some unifying qualities in a variety of cultures: contentment. How do you define contentment? For me, it is the attitude of gratitude. Being thankful in all circumstances will lead to contentment.
I believe that our attitudes are a result of the choices we make, based on the circumstances we face. In other words, we have the ability to choose our attitude. When difficulties arise, we can choose to be bitter, or we can choose joy. And that choice will determine our attitude. Make sense? Now, I do understand that the choice can be difficult at times, because our tendency is to allow our circumstances to dictate our outlook. For me, when I feel ungrateful, I remember the lessons I have learned from other cultures, people who definitely have far less than we do here in America.
I heard some sobering statistics from a pastor on how blessed we truly are in the U.S.:
- The U.S. has 6% of the world’s population, yet we consume 40% of its resources.
- Drive a car? You are part of the 8% of the world’s population that does.
- Like to drink water? 1 billion people today will have no access to clean drinking water.
- Like food? 800 million people will not eat today.
- Money? 1 billion live on less than $1 per day.
For me, I can always do a better job at cultivating a stronger attitude of gratitude. It’s not always my first choice. This Thanksgiving may be a difficult for you or someone in your family. Maybe you have become unemployed, or you have received unexpected news of a health crisis, or your circumstances just haven’t been pleasant. What is your choice going to be? Can you rise above your circumstances and choose gratitude? Truth is, on your own you can’t. But by the grace of God and in His power, you, and I, can choose to be thankful this Thanksgiving. We have been blessed. Take some time today, and in the days to come, to list your blessings and then give thanks to God for His provision in your life. Your gratitude will lead to a positive attitude.
“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” -Edward Sandford Martin
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
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