As followers of Jesus, “grateful” should be our default setting when we consider that Jesus died to redeem us from an eternity of being separated from God. This should put a spring in our step and cause all the not-so-great stuff to bounce off as irrelevant. But I tend to succumb to less-than-grateful reactions, because, well, traffic, mess, stress, too little of this, too much of that. You know how it goes.
Still, I know that in the big picture all the daily details matter very little, and I want to have joy in my heart. Let me share with you three areas that I have been concentrating on in order to be more positive in my reactions and outlook.
Be grateful for the smallest things
I’m learning to notice the smallest things that bring joy, and the list is endless: the sunrise, the sunset, a great cup of coffee, the cool morning air, the laughter of children, my husband’s strong arms, a good book, my pillow, and on and on the list goes. I’ve discovered that keeping a long string of small joys in mind can do wonders for absorbing the impact of some of the harder things life throws at me.
Don’t get attached to any particular outcome
This is a hard one! There are times when I’ve had very strong feelings about what I believe the outcome should be, but there were things at play that I couldn’t control. It’s often hard for me to say “Either way I’ll be grateful,” because who wants to be grateful for a bad diagnosis or a rejected job application? But I’ve learned that my gratitude is not meant to be based on the outcome, but rather based on the fact that God is good. Always. Even when His goodness is beyond my comprehension.
Remember God’s goodness
For all my worrying, for all the tight spots, for all the difficult journeys, haven’t I come through okay? None of the hard things have altogether ruined me. I’ve never reached a place where God’s love couldn’t find me. Like Paul says: “Endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope.”1 When I pause to remember God’s goodness, my heart is flooded with that truth and my outlook can again become grateful.