In our final blog looking at different ways to connect with God, Claire Musters shares how thankfulness has helped her in some difficult seasons.
I was first challenged in this area by a friend leading a session in a mother/toddler group I attended when my son was younger. I was struggling with postnatal depression, and often awoke with a feeling of hopelessness. I decided to take up the challenge, although I wasn’t sure what difference it would make at the time. However, having the goal of thanking God for the day as soon as I woke up did help to shift my perspective, even though it was difficult at times (and wasn’t a ‘magic cure’ for my depression). The challenge also included thinking of five different things to be thankful to God for daily. I couldn’t always think of five, but didn’t get hung up on that – the practice helped me to remember to thank God and gave me much more of an awareness of his hand of grace in my life at I time when his presence often felt pushed out by the depression.
As the years have passed, I haven’t kept up the practice religiously, but I do go back to it every so often. Back in 2017, for example, I realised that my attitude wasn’t as positive as it had been previously. I was busy writing a book, and was grateful for the time I’d had set aside to do so, but I was beginning to get anxious about the fact that I hadn’t had much paid work. The lack of income was definitely weighing heavy on my mind. I found that taking the time to intentionally thank God for what he was doing in my everyday life shifted my focus off of the ‘what ifs’, and made me more grateful, and generally more at peace as a result. I look back now with great thankfulness for that period, as I had the time and space to write without distraction, and God supplied all our family’s needs too.
I found that taking the time to intentionally thank God for what he was doing in my everyday life shifted my focus off of the ‘what ifs’, and made me more grateful and peaceful.
Thankfulness has also been an anchor for me in the toughest of times, and so I have been encouraging my kids to choose daily gratitude too. Not only is gratitude a biblical concept, but science has discovered the wisdom behind it in recent years. Research has proven that if you write down at least three daily gratitudes for 21 days it rewires the brain and improves your overall mental wellbeing. One of them has been struggling in that area recently, so has made it a priority to say three things each night that they are grateful for. As I say goodnight, we discuss them and then pray, thanking God.
This is a practice that is full of positives – why not give it a try?
Incorporating thankfulness into each day
- On waking, thank God for your breath, for those close to you and for the chance to serve him for another day.
- Before going to bed each night, write in a journal five reasons to thank God.
- Just before switching off the light at bedtime, thank God for the way he has revealed his love and care to you.
If you would like a further thankfulness challenge, why not set an hourly alarm on your phone, and take a moment each time it goes off to thank God for his presence, and for the fact that he is interested in every part of your life.