I’m learning to practice thankfulness. To take notice of things God has done in my life and things he’s given me in hopes that this thankfulness will bring about a new sense of joy. This idea that practicing thankfulness instills joy is intriguing to me. Giving thanks is such a simple thing. And realizing that this simple act gives great joy, the kind that only comes from God, why has it taken me so long to grasp this seemingly simple concept?
In Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, she urges the reader to cultivate a habit of thankfulness towards God so that, no matter the season of life, our instinctual response is to look for ways in which God is working. To seek out where praise is due to Him. Voskamp writes, “Thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large, and I hunger for it. ” PREACH sister. I so hunger for this joy. The joy that pulls us through the trenches and over the mountain tops.
In a recent interview on Sadie Robertson’s Whoa That’s Good Podcast, Annie F. Downs asks the question, “Even on your darkest day, can you find one thing?” Her challenge here was to dig deep in your moment of sorrow to find at least one thing that is joyful, one thing you can be thankful for. Now I don’t think what Downs is saying here is for us to completely ignore and not process through our sorrow, but maybe that while we are working through it, finding joy and seeking God in the little things might just help pull us out of the rut we’re in.
Paul, who continually suffered and endured persecution for the cause of Christ, tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Practicing thankfulness not only brings us joy as Voskamp and Downs suggest, but it’s also an act of obedience to our Father. (Side note – isn’t it kind of interesting how obedience to God happens to bring us the truest sense of joy? Kind of like He’s always got our best interest in mind? But I guess that’s another blog post for another time.)
Since reading Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts last January, I’ve been journaling a list of things that I’m thankful for. To be honest, it’s not near as full as it could or should be. But when I sit down to write, even on tough days, I can always find at least one thing. And it’s so simple. There’s nothing fancy about this journal. I don’t even write in complete sentences – I just list things out as they come to mind. I initially tried to not be repetitive with what I wrote down, but that eventually got thrown out the window because sometimes I’m just really thankful for my dog and my husband on really bad day and I think God gets that.
And what I’ve noticed since starting this thankfulness journal, is that the more often I write in it, the more I see God in the day-to-day.
I see Him sunrises and sunsets that I know He knows I love so much.
I see Him in kind words people speak to me when I’ve prayed for encouragement.
I see Him in the built in bookshelves we have in our new home that I’ve dreamed of having since watching the library scene in Beauty and the Beast as a little girl. (This one may sound silly, but y’all. I told no one about wanting these bookshelves when we were house hunting. My husband didn’t even know until I started unpacking my books. And then he listened to me gush about how I know God loves me because he gave me bookshelves I didn’t even ask for.)
You see, the more I practice thankfulness, the more I see God at work, and the more I realize all I have to be thankful for. It’s this beautiful habit that maybe doesn’t change my situation or the season of life I’m in, but man it helps alter my perspective. Friend, will you join me on this journey of learning to be more thankful and working to see God in all the little things? There is such joy to be found here.