1. It’s a chore. No! Thankfulness isn’t an exercise like flossing, to make you a more rounded person. It’s a whole new way of looking at the world. It’s a command and a habit and an opportunity. It is more than writing a list before you go to bed – though this might be a help. It’s risky and thrilling and it changes you and the people around you.
2. It’s based on the good stuff you’ve got. Thankfulness is much bigger than material things or nice circumstances. It’s rooted in who God is and what He does and has done. That blows your nice new fridge out of the water. Especially if the fridge breaks – or if your child draws on it or if you don’t get a new one to begin with.
3. If you do it, God will think you need a challenge and take the goodies away. A. The greatest goodies we are given from God cannot be taken away. B. We don’t believe in karma do we? God is not balancing the scales, He’s the great Giver. So enjoy!
4. If you don’t do it, God will take your good stuff away and zap you miserable. See point 3. God is not waiting to slam you down if you step out of line. In fact, He’s got more spiritual blessings to pour out than you can handle, (N.B: these blessings are not usually new cars or holidays).
5. It’s just a spin on positive thinking, (I.e: ignoring negatives and clinging to false hope). Maybe some of the positive thinking people have stumbled across something of how we tick. But Christian thankfulness is not based on wishful thinking or how it makes us feel. It’s grounded in who God is and what He has done.
6. You can only do it if you’re feeling happy. If that’s true, then what about people like me who are natural worriers? Or grumps? If I wait till I feel grateful I’ll go to the grave muttering about what I’m owed. The bible says be thankful, not feel thankful – (and what’s interesting is that the feelings often follow the doing). Thankfulness means praising God in all circumstances, because my hope and identity are outside those circumstances. In fact during hard times we need gratitude the most! Thankfulness gives us new perspective and reminds us of the truth when we’re tempted to give up – it’s the difference between a life lived in self-pity and despair and one lived with grace and hope.
7. Gratitude is naive. So often we pride ourselves on cool, and detachment, and cynicism, but that’s not what the gospel creates. You might naturally think hopefulness and gratitude is weak. In fact it takes much more strength to look outside yourself and embrace life than to shut down and stay self-focused.
8. It’s about being polite. Thankfulness is more than just saying grace at meals (tho there’s nothing wrong with this!) or doing something because you feel it would be rude not to. It’s an expression of our hearts – a way of blessing those who give to us, and an acknowledgement of gift and giver.
9. I earned it so I don’t need to say thanks. Rubbish! We can’t even earn the air that we breathe, let alone the heaven of blessings that Christ has given us.
10. I’m not a thank-y sort of person. I imagine that when you were born you weren’t a toilet-trained sort of person either. See where I’m going..?
11. It means settling for less. Perhaps we worry that if we tell God we’re grateful for this amount of blessing, He’ll stop blessing us. But gratitude is not about settling – but learning contentment whilst you keep praying and waiting on the Lord. Whilst you wait and trust, it sets you free from slavery to the things you haven’t got and a person/life that doesn’t exist.
12. It’s about being nice. Nice is neither here nor there. (I hate the word ‘nice.’ And I don’t think Jesus was nice. Compassionate, gentle, passionate, selfless – yes. Nice? No).
13. It’s about making ME feel better. Lots of people say ‘practise thankfulness’ because it makes you happier. This might be a side-effect, but it’s not the goal. It’s not about us. It’s directed to God and to others with the aim of blessing them and acknowledging their kindness. It’s a way of going outside of ourselves, not further in.
14. Gratitude is boring. No – it’s brilliant.
What helps you say thanks?