Let’s assume you will be expressing gratitude this Thanksgiving. Wonderful! Stopping to offer a prayer of thanks around the Thanksgiving table is a wonderful tradition. But, it is a tradition we should practice every day.
The problem is, many don’t have grateful hearts. Instead of focusing on all the wonderful blessings God has poured into our lives, we tend to turn our eyes to all the things we don’t yet possess.
The same mouth we use to eat the delicious Thanksgiving turkey and say Thanksgiving prayers, we also use to grumble every other day of the year.
God is not a fan of our grumbling.
Some of you are reading this and thinking of someone else, but what if I told you this blog is for you? The sad truth is we all struggle with grumbling, and we could do a better job of being grateful.
Because we feel so justified in our complaints, grumbling is difficult to see in the mirror.
To help us on our path to gratefulness, let’s look at a few key traits of grumblers and turn our attention to a couple of ways to turn grumbling into gratitude.
Are You a Constant Complainer?
Most of us can easily name a person who constantly complains.
Maybe you are humble enough to admit a season when you complained. But, most of us often complain without realizing it. We are quick to get annoyed when others do, but slow to see it in ourself.
For example, you may be familiar with the story of Moses and the Israelites fleeing Egyptian slavery.
God led the Israelites through the sea and the wilderness.
God made sure they were supplied with manna from heaven to fill their bellies.
God provided quail when they wanted meat.
God supplied water out of rocks when they were thirsty.
In the moment, the Israelites saw these miracles as gifts from heaven. They recognized the initial hallelujah moment. But, it wasn’t long before they were complaining again about what they didn’t have.
They grumbled because they wanted the food they ate in Egypt.
“The rabble [disorderly people/mob] with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!’”
– Numbers 11:4-6
It’s easy to sit back and judge the Israelites because they didn’t appreciate God freeing them from slavery and providing the right food to meet their needs.
But, how often do we complain because we’re disappointed with a meal?
What did you complain about today that someone else may have seen as a blessing?
Are You Ungrateful?
No one likes an ungrateful person.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been ungrateful at some time.
If you fail to express gratitude, you’re ungrateful.
If you are still unsure, there are other ways to determine if you are ungrateful.
- Are you discontent? Are you dissatisfied?
- Are you entitled?
- Are you bitter or unforgiving?
- Are you the victim?
- Are you selfish?
If you answered yes to these questions, you need a heart change!
Do You Whine About Your Current Circumstances?
The Israelites spent a good amount of their trek through the wilderness (again, out of slavery) grumbling, whining, and complaining about their current circumstances.
Rather than having faith for the future God had in store, they saw the past through rose-colored glasses. We do this same thing.
When you are in the thick of it, it is easy to see only the negative. But, those who follow Christ have reason to see beyond their present circumstances to their future hope!
Your present circumstances are not permanent – this world is not your home (Hebrews 13:11).
If life is still getting you down, look towards the heroes of the Bible who chose to thank God rather than whine when they were facing trials – even Jesus himself!
Ann Voskamp exclaimed on Twitter, “On the night He was BETRAYED...Jesus broke bread & lifted it up & GAVE THANKS.' If Jesus can give thanks *in that*, we can give thanks in all.”
“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Here are some ways to stop grumbling and start thanking.
Instead of Complaining, Count Your Blessings!
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
– Philippians 4:12-13
Like Paul, strive to be content in every situation by placing your faith in Christ. When you are tempted to complain, look for reasons to be thankful.
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Then, express thanks! Don’t hold it in. Use those lips that were ready to complain to thank God instead.
If life is bleak, start at the top – thank God for being God and for giving you all you need.
Instead of Being Ungrateful, Practice Gratitude!
“Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Make a shift from being ungrateful to practicing gratitude. The key here is the “practicing.”
This is an action verb. You need to “practice” gratitude.
This means expressing thanks to God and others.
It might be through giving thanks to God throughout the day, sending thank you notes, or keeping a gratitude journal.
Make it a habit to actively express gratitude each day.
Instead of Whining, Express Joy!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
– James 1:2-3
Rather than allowing your circumstances to influence your joy, have faith that God will use your circumstances for good.
Instead of whining, hold fast to the hope you have in Jesus and the knowledge you have that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33)!