Daily Devotionals

Practice Gratitude in the Moment

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Scripture: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“No!” This is the word we hear over and over again throughout the day from our two-year-old toddler. “No eggs! No turkey! No diaper! No bow! No bed! No, mommy-daddy!” We hear it so much that I think I am beginning to hear it in my sleep. I will admit that sometimes the repeated “no” refrain is almost more than I can take.

We also added another daughter to our family on Easter Sunday. Instead of “no,” this daughter just wants to be held. Held all day. Held most of the night. The very moment you think you’ve rocked her to sleep and put her down is the exact second she will tell you with her eyes, body language, and hyperventilation that she wants to be held again and immediately … or else a high-pitched wail is certain to follow.

I have been trying, perhaps in vain, to keep up a happy, patient, and calm demeanor with both our toddler and newborn. It is not easy to put up a façade, particularly with children who seem to be able to see right through it.

Recently, a friend came to bring us dinner. She shared a piece of advice that she was implementing herself: Turn your complaints into a reason to be grateful. What a change of perspective. Instead of being upset at my toddler’s repeated “no” or letting my newborn’s desire to be held wear me down, I am practicing gratitude in the moment.

“No.” Instead of being frustrated and angry, I am grateful that my daughter is learning to express her opinion and becoming both independent and confident. I am grateful that she feels safe in our presence to be herself.

Holding my newborn daughter all day long: instead of being impatient and exhausted, I am grateful that my newborn needs me and that I am capable of comforting her. One day she will not want to be seen in the same room as us, let alone allow us to hold her tightly.

Today’s scripture reminds us that the Lord wants us to be grateful. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

God gives us abundant blessings. He also gives us challenges. Jesus said: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jesus is the living example of God’s abundant grace and living proof that our lives will have highs and lows. Even minor daily frustrations will run us ragged if we let them. How are we to fully accept and appreciate God’s love, if all we can think about are our own selfish attitudes and desires? Perhaps adopting an attitude of gratitude, as the Bible instructs, will help us truly appreciate God’s gifts.

Prayer: Lord, “Thou hast given so much to me. Give one thing more, a grateful heart.”* Amen. 

Submitted by Lyndey Bryant

*Herbert, George. “Gratefulness,” The Temple, 1633.