Thomas: God's will is for us to have an attitude of gratitude

Inspired by the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul, wrote: "No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

My first response is, "Come on Paul, get real!" Life is tough! Sometimes, it's brutal. But Paul didn't pen this from a pampered, indulgent life of ease following Christ. He experienced more than his fair share of suffering.


In his letter to the church in Corinth we discover that for the cause of Christ, Paul endured multiple jail terms, several whippings (five times he received 39 lashes — 40 lashes usually killed a man), faced death several times, was beaten with rods three times, stoned once, and shipwrecked 3 times. "I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm." 2 Corinthians 11:23-17 (NLT)

Paul suffered all those things and more — yet he insists, "No matter what happens, always be thankful!" What an attitude! But what does that have to do with us in the midst of our struggles, hurts and disappointments? Why should we take Paul's advice to heart?

The number one question most Christians ask is: "God, what is Your will for my life?" The scripture is plain as day! "No matter what happens — be thankful!" How can I? Because "this is God's will for you." God says, "No matter what you are facing, my will for you is to be thankful!"

Researchers tell us that the most powerful human emotion isn't love. It's gratitude!

Living with an "attitude of gratitude" transforms our perspective on life. It shapes how we respond to life's struggles and how we relate to both people and God. If you're grateful, your life shows it in numerous ways. You're positive, thinking the best of others. You're kind to people, especially those around you who are hurting, too. When you choose to thank God and be grateful, your heart is set free from bitterness, anger, complaint and criticism. I love to be around grateful people. It's so refreshing to be around persons who are thankful to God for life, their job, their family. A grateful attitude is contagious. It can transform an office, a staff, a classroom, a church — and a family from focusing on what they don't have, to all that they do have!

I love when my kids are grateful for the things my wife and I do for them. A heartfelt, "Thanks Mom and Dad — you're the best!" truly makes my day. In the same way, I bet God loves it when His kids are truly grateful for all the blessings He showers on us — and how much more so, when we choose to thank Him even in the toughest times.

When we choose to give God thanks in tough times, we're doing God's will. When we choose to give God thanks, we're making the faith-filled decision that God is for us, not against us! Instead of thinking that God is ignoring us, punishing us or treating us unfairly, we recognize that it's His grace that's keeping us and enabling us to make it through the dark valleys that surround us.

So be grateful! It's a matter of choice! Though you often can't choose those things life throws at you, you can always choose your response. God's will for each of us is to thank Him in all circumstances because He loves us! We can put our full trust in Him no matter what we are facing. We can thank God because He will see us through even the hardest times! Make the choice to do God's will today, and give Him thanks!

God has given us the power to choose how we respond to life. Choose to thank God! It's God's will for you and makes you a better person and follower of Jesus Christ!

The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at