A turkey dinner celebration may make your pants feel tighter around the waist. But I’m not referring to that kind of transformation! When thanksgiving to God becomes woven into our daily moments, delightful changes begin to transpire in our hearts and lives.
1. God Directs Our Paths (Makes Our Way Straight)
As we acknowledge God in all our ways throughout the day, He promises to direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:6) For example, we can thank God for wisdom when making decisions. When we turn on the water faucet, we can thank him for plumbing and clean water. When we press the “start” button on the washing machine or dishwasher, we can thank Him for those conveniences. When things come together for us, we can thank God for how He makes all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28) As we acknowledge Him in all our ways, our path becomes plain and ordered by God.
2. We Draw Closer to God
When you enjoy a close friendship with someone, it’s easy to talk with them and you look for opportunities to get together. So it is with God. When we talk to Him throughout the day, acknowledging His goodness and thanking Him, our friendship with Him deepens. Thanksgiving draws us closer to God.
3. We Receive Grace (Divine Favor)
Whenever someone gives us something or performs an act of kindness toward us, it is an act of humility to thank them. We acknowledge something they did for us instead of thinking that we are the source for everything. James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Grace is God’s unmerited, divine favor. It’s often explained as God giving us what we don’t deserve or earn. The Greek word for “grace” is charis, and it is inside the New Testament word for “thanksgiving,” eucharistia. It is impossible to separate grace from thanksgiving!
4. We Become Happier
As we acknowledge and thank God throughout the day, He directs our paths. We draw closer to Him and receive His grace. These benefits make us joyful. Think about it. Have you ever known a thankful person who is miserable?
The word “grace” in the New Testament comes from the root word meaning “to rejoice exceedingly, be glad.” You might say that grace and joy are bound up in thanksgiving!
5. We Become Kinder
When you practice thanksgiving, you’re happier and don’t get your feathers ruffled so quickly. Since I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal, I’ve noticed annoyances that used to bother me aren’t a big deal anymore. Giving thanks transforms us from the inside. Instead of trying to rid ourselves of undesirable traits like anger, negativity, and criticism, God provides us with the grace to become more like Jesus Christ.
6. Peace Guards Us Against Anxiety
Let’s face it—when it comes to the news media, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Unfortunately, negative news attracts viewers and improves ratings. But when we practice intentional gratitude regularly, our positive mindset isn’t as easily swayed to focus on the negatives. We become more discerning in where we place our focus. Like David, we say more and more, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” (Psalm 101:3)
This isn’t to say that an attitude of gratitude buries our heads in the sand. On the contrary, thanksgiving brings our focus closer to God’s perspective and wisdom. It is not His will for us to become anxious by everything happening around us. Instead, He wants us to present our requests to Him in everything, with thanksgiving. When we pray to Him with gratitude, no matter what is going on around us, His peace will guard our hearts and minds. (Philippians 4:6-7)
7. Our Relationships Improve
When we express gratitude to the people in our lives—at home, work, or church—our hearts begin to tenderize toward them. Instead of displaying a critical attitude or hurtful words, we can look for ways to express thanks to others.
It’s easy to criticize, but no one has ever raised a statue to honor a critic. It takes a lot more work to swim against the stream of negatives and look for ways to show appreciation. A word of gratitude to a heart hungry for kindness is a healing balm.
Relationships always blossom in an atmosphere of appreciation but dwindle under the weight of criticism. God exhorts us to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
Experience the Thanksgiving Transformation
No, not the belt-loosening bulge on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, you can experience the joyful, peaceful transformation that comes with giving thanks every day.
Try it and see for yourself. Each morning or about thirty minutes before bed, write down three to five things for which you’re thankful. As we practice this intentional gratitude regularly, we begin to notice positive changes. We have more direction, closeness with God, grace, happiness, kindness, less anxiety, and more meaningful relationships.
Like David, we can confidently proclaim, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalms 34:1)
This article was printed in the 2021 Fall Issue of GO! Christian Magazine.