We all desire Christ’s peace. That’s a given. But the question is, how do you arrive at that peace? I believe you receive this peace when you come to Him with a thankful heart. I believe gratitude is always a choice.
I love the attitude of Matthew Henry. Matthew Henry was an eighteenth-century Puritan preacher who wrote a very popular Bible commentary that’s still used today. While living in London, he was once accosted by robbers. Matthew Henry wrote the following:
“Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
I love that perspective! Gratitude is the appropriate response to God’s blessings. The opposite of gratitude is ingratitude. Ingratitude can be dangerous in our lives and relationships. Here are three good reasons for gratitude.
- Gratitude demonstrates obedience. The psalmist wrote, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High” (Psalm 50:14). “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples” (Psalm 105:1). The Psalms are filled with praises like, “thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man” (Psalm 107:8). There is a clear command and expectation of God for us to possess an “attitude of gratitude.”
- Gratitude draws us closer to God. We all want to feel God’s nearness. It’s amazing when pressures increase, when we stay up late at night worrying about life, or when life just feels dull and routine, we crave the assurance of His presence. What you need to know is that God loves the praises of His people. In fact, God lives in the place of praise. This is a recurring theme in the psalms: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4)! “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2). Thanksgiving brings us into the very presence of God!
- Gratitude is a sure path to peace. I’ve known a lot of people who suffer from a lack of peace. It’s too easy to think about the things we don’t have, or what we don’t get to do. It breeds discontentment, and that breeds anger and anxiety. For example, I could dwell on the fact that my wife is driving an 18-year-old car. And I’m driving a 13-year-old car. What I’m thankful for is that they are both paid for. They get us where we need to go. Even the AC, heat, and radio work. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
To state this another way: In any and all situations…prayer plus thanksgiving brings peace.
I don’t know what chaotic, unsettled situations you may be facing. It could be you are feeling soul weary from strife, stress, and life’s strain. But what I do know, there is peace available for you. God’s peace is just inside the doors of deliberate gratitude. I have a brief homework assignment for you. Spend a few moments listing all the many blessings God has given you. I guarantee you it will be a long list.