I believe this is one of (if not the) most paramount key to having a life of abundant blessings and hope. Merriam-Webster defined grateful as appreciative of benefits received. You might ask, “What benefit? I’m in a lot of mess right now!”. the truth is, to be grateful is a decision. Your circumstances does not matter. When God bless you, it is His prerogative to decide to pour the blessings. Your prayers matter, but your circumstances, mood, and everything else does not.
Every day and every morning we receive tons of “benefits” from God. Just like a mother prepare her kids for the day, from getting them out of the bed, preparing the best breakfast, preparing their lunchpail, making sure they got everything for the day. That’s how God gets us every morning, with all kinds of benefits. I prefer the word “blessings” over benefits on every case. From the all-you-can-breathe free air, the sunlight, to the surrounding people, everything is God-given blessing. Those simple things are often taken-for-granted. Try to be appreciative of those simple things every morning can drastically change your way of thinking.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”, 1 Thessalonians 5:18
In this post, I will share three actionable tips on how to be grateful in life. These three is the most practical and I find that give the most impact on my struggle to be grateful in every circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. I, too, still grumpy and resentful when things don’t go my way. Just like you, finding hope and be grateful every day is also my struggle. Nevertheless, I can not stress enough how important is to have a life style of gratitude.
Tips #1 SMALL THINGS MATTER
We put values in everything. We are taught to pursue the best value in life. We are used to giving high values in whatever other people see as of high value, e.g: success, wealth, power, etc. However, as Christian, we have different perspective. Jesus said, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (NKJV, Matthew 23:11). Apparently greatness is not measured with power, but with humility, modesty, and love for others.
In other place, Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ?Move from here to there,? and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (NKJV, Matthew 17:20). I believe mustard seed is one of the smallest plant seed. Therefore, do not underestimate the power of being grateful in small things.
Without one penny, there won’t be a thousand dollars. Our days are made of small and big events. If we think about it, there are more small events than big events in our day. If we can be aware and grateful for one small things, there will be no end of gratefulness flowing out of you. I’m thankful for the meals He provided me. I’m thankful that He provided transportation so that I can go to work. I’m grateful for my coworker and people I meet during the day. I’m also grateful that I spill my coffee on my keyboard, thus I get a new keyboard. I’m grateful that even though I’m having a bad day, I know I still have people who love and support me.
I found hope in small things. When I’m grateful of smaller events that happen in my life, I see that there are a lot of good things in my world, and at the end of my day, it’s not a bad day at all.
Actionable tips: every morning when you wake up, the first thing you do is say this short sentence, “Thank you, Jesus for _______.”. Replace the blank with whatever comes in your mind first. Do this for 10 days and you will see a difference.
Tips #2 PUT IT IN A NOTE
I have a small notepad with me everywhere. I’m a forgetful person. If I don’t see it, most likely I will forget it. I usually wrote 3 to 5 things that I experience in the particular day that I’m grateful of. When I feel lost, on the bed, at night, I open the notepad and found myself a reminder of God’s blessing that day. I’m reminded by my notes that there is still hope for a better day tomorrow.
I also collect my notes at the of the month and end of the year. I can only be amazed to find out how many blessings I receive until today. It helped me to find hope for the next year. The year of 2020 is the most amazing for me. I started the year with struggle on our family financial because I don’t have a job. I applied everywhere (and I’m not picky on what kind of job) but still zero. At those time, I see in my notes that I‘m grateful for even the food we still can have day-by-day (even though I don’t know until when we will survive.
On March 2020, COVID-19 hit US hard that everywhere businesses have to close, a lot of people were let go. I thought, “Oh God, how can it be worse than this.”. I found notes that I still be grateful for the smile I see on my daughter’s face every morning. Also, the support my wife gave me everyday to keep faithful. It turns out that we are eligible to receive unemployment benefit from government; another grateful thing that I found in my notes.
Until May 2020, I receive a call from one of the big company in the US. They were willing to give me a chance and offer a job position. I put a big notes with fireworks and flowers on the page. I’m still grateful today that God opened me a door. A lot of people lost their job, and job search is never been harder than these times. My life is the testament that God is able to open the door that no one think it’s impossible. I would never survive those times without my notes.
Actionable tips: Start taking notes on things that you are grateful each day. Combine tips #1 and your notes, it will be a powerful tool to help you find hope in the midst of your journey.
Tips #3 BE KIND AND GENEROUS
There is one thing I admire most in people, it is kindness. It does not limited by demographical, geographical, social, or even financial aspects. I can easily see God’s personality manifested in people’s kindness. That is the main reason I trust in people’s good nature, because I believe God is in their heart, period. No matter what their circumstances are.
There are many stories in the bible that clearly tell us that most of the time Jesus acted out of kindness. When He saw thousands of people listening to Him and became hungry. He didn’t dismiss them as His disciple suggest, but He fed them. Many healing miracles He performed because of his compassion for us.
The last year (2020) taught me that I can find hope in other people’s smile. Even though my situation is not better than everyone else, kindness is the most fruitful “investment” you can do to find hope. I don’t have any money to spare to charity or things like that. Well, the good news is it’s not about money. Being kind is never associated to our wealth, our possession, or our portfolio. It’s about returning what God has given to us.
As simple as holding the door for the person behind me, I see God’s smile in theirs. Another time when I helped a lady that is having a hard time shoveling snow from her driveway, I felt God’s warmth personality in hers. When I make other people a priority over me, I put myself in God’s priority. Hope is not an extraordinary thing, and it’s not supernatural. It’s actually very human nature and you can find it when your action, combined with kindness and generosity, brings the smallest impact to someone else’s life.
Actionable tips: Try your best to put other people first, in everything you do. It won’t be easy (at least for me). But I promise you, God will put you first in His priority.
Finding hope in gratefulness
I encourage you to make a decision today. A decision to be more aware of God’s blessings in the smallest things happen to your life every single day. I pray that you will find hope in the midst of the storm. There is no magic words, mantra or certain formula on how to be grateful in life. You only need to remember that God loves you so much, that He “invested” a lot in us with every benefit that He gives us freely every day. Acknowledge this and find smile and hope in your life.
Simple prayer to help us be grateful
Dear God, open my eyes to see the blessings that You prepare for me each day. Open my heart to other people, so that I can feel the warmth of Your love through others. Let me see your face in other people’s smile, and let all of those bring hope and deepen my love for You each day. Amen.