Several years ago, I established a new habit.
I decided I would daily and prayerfully journal three things I was thankful for. With one rule: I couldn't write the same three things every day.
Otherwise, my morning gratitude to the Lord would look rather unoriginal:
I knew originality and thoughtfulness were essential in truly growing in thanksgiving.
This intentional practice has become a crucial habit of my life, daily helping me to look for God's goodness where I might not otherwise see it.
Like in November and December of 2021 when I was hit hard with Covid. I felt beyond miserable, and it took me a month and a half to once again be functional. I was able to find the silver lining at the end of November when I found the strength to write, “Jesus, thank You for rest and essential oils.”
Or like this past summer when an unknown health diagnosis hung over my head. One day in June I journaled, “Jesus, thank You for the gift, power, and privilege of prayer – for access to Your throne room and for the authority You have given me.”
Because I was deliberately looking for things to be grateful for, I found treasures in darkness. And even more, I guarded myself from darkness taking over my heart, as the Bible warns will happen to those who fail to thank and honor God:
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
This gratitude habit has helped me to thank God when I might otherwise fail to acknowledge Him for what He has done.
Like in August of 2021 when I reflected on how God had answered prayers by blessing my family with incredible, godly neighbors who treated my kids like their own grandkids: “Jesus, thank You for Nancy and Ron.”
Or like in July of 2022 during a long, hard season when I wrote in my journal: “Jesus, thank You for lots of social encouragement this past week, after a very low point just over a week ago.”
Were it not for my daily habit of gratitude, my soul likely wouldn’t have soaked in God’s goodness in this way. In our prayers, it’s too easy to focus on our needs and requests while overlooking the ways He has come through. But we miss out on joy and other spiritual blessings when we fail to consider and acknowledge what God has done.
We were designed to give thanks.
In her book, Think, Learn, Succeed, Caroline Leaf wrote, “Research on the effects gratitude has on our biology shows how being thankful increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to problem-solve. It also improves our overall health.”
So, when God commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), He knows it’s for our good. He isn’t trying to put a burden on us. He wants to bless us.
For me personally, I have to make a deliberate choice to be thankful. What about you? Does gratitude come naturally to you? Or are you prone to sink into the mud of your misfortunes?
Let me challenge you to make a habit of gazing gratefully at the gifts you have been given. Even in your deepest, darkest night. God is there, and His goodness is too.
"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." (Charles Dickens)
Will you make a daily habit of gratitude? It will change your life.
Kimberly Vaughn is The Connection’s blog editor, as well as a co-leader for their mentoring program, “Together.” She is a wife and a homeschool mom of two. Kimberly has a passion to encourage and build up other women, especially those who are hurting and broken. She has been involved in various aspects of ministry since graduating from Bible college 20 years ago. It is her desire for women to experience hope and transformation in Jesus through the words she writes and speaks.