Cultivating a Thankful Heart

Written by Mark Wickersham, Director of Spiritual Formation

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and there is much to be thankful for…

  • My oldest of three is getting married to a godly young man in just two weeks!
  • We’re members at a great church where I get to serve in a variety of capacities. 
  • I have a beautiful wife who draws me to Christ and children walking with the Lord.
  • I have a fantastic job that allows me to teach high schoolers what God’s Word says. 

My Facebook and Instagram accounts clearly show that God has blessed me big time. What my social media accounts don’t show is that life isn’t always hunky-dory. Life can definitely be difficult, demanding, and depressing at times. Despite this, we are told to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). How does one do this when family members are clashing, your finances have taken a hit, or the minds and bodies of loved ones are being destroyed by disease? It may not be easy all the time, but here are some simple and essential spiritual practices we can put into place so we complain less and thank God more. To God be the glory!

1. READING God’s Word – The Bible is God’s words to us and provides us the answers to life. The Bible reminds us that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17) and equips us to be ATMs (automated thanking machines). Reading and studying your Bible will help you be more joyful and grateful for life. 

2. REMEMBERING God’s Goodness – My first date with Megan, holding my children for the first time, being offered a job at ECS, God opening my eyes and giving me a new heart, and the list goes on and on. Take time to look back on all that God has done for you! The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. Psalm 145:17

3.¬†REFLECTING on God’s Splendor¬†– Often I’m navel-gazing when I should be setting my mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). As I meditate on my Heavenly Father and Christ who sits at His right hand, my mind is filled with only beauty. I see a holy God who shines the light of His glory – a light that I can actually shine on others.

4. REQUESTING God’s Help – We can’t do it alone. Life can be overwhelming, and we need to cry out to God. God is there for us, but we need to get on our knees and admit our dependence on Him. Be humble and communicate continuously with the Creator of the universe. When we cry out to God, He sees our hearts and responds with love (Romans 5:8).

5. RESTING in God – I’m a doer who likes to check off boxes. That isn’t always bad, but we must learn to quiet ourselves, be still, and acknowledge that God is sovereign and reigns supreme (Job 42:2). I need to slow down and trust that God has complete control of everything. Take a walk with Megan, go fishing with Josiah Lee, have a meal with my daughters – simply enJOY the life God has given us.

What are some ways you cultivate a thankful heart?

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2