There may have been times when you have felt overwhelmed by negative thinking. Those times where you have been disappointed or discouraged, when the only thing you see are the things missing. Complaining, anxiety, fear, negativity, may consume your thinking and you find it hard to get perspective. Don't let the negative thoughts shape your identity. You have a powerful weapon, thanksgiving. It protects and strengthens your heart and mind.
Reach out of the negative narrative you have been rehearsing and cultivate a heart of gratitude. "I will give thanks to You Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of Your wonderful deeds," Psalm 9:1. In the Psalmist's words he makes a choice by his will. "I will give thanks...I will tell..." He made a decision to be grateful and to look at all that God had done for him.
Gratefulness is an oil to the mind. It switches on imagination, beauty and creativity. When you are stuck in a mindset of negativity, it becomes paralyzing. Did you know that your mind is not able to solve problems in that state and you actually lose the ability to imagine, dream and create.
When you are not using your voice for thanksgiving to God here are a few things that can happen. Do you recognize any of these in your life?
1) A spirit of entitlement creeps into your thinking. You begin to feel that God owes you something and you get offended at God. Why hasn't He given you that which you have asked Him for? There becomes a frustration in your prayers and you lose sight of all that He has done for you. When I see this happening in my mind, I go to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:6, "Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me."
I will speak out the words, "Jesus, I will not be offended by You no matter what I feel or what I am seeing in the natural. I know you are good and You are faithful to all that You have promised. I trust You." I remind myself of what God has done for me. I switch on gratefulness, in place of complaint.
2) Your love grows dim. When you lose sight of what God has done for you, your connection to God begins to wane. Not on His side, but on your side. When you allow negativity to control your thought life, you lose passion. Your habits of praying, reading God's Word, going to church, being in a small group, etc. changes. You can make excuses because it is hard to pursue when the answers haven't arrived in your timing or your plan.
Turn your love back on. How? Remember who God is and what He has done for you! Write out your personal history with God. Remind yourself of the testimonies of His faithfulness to you. Thank Him for His activity in your life!
3) Your perspective on situations is skewed. Gratitude motivates you to look for God's purposes in every circumstance. A thankful heart focuses your attention on God rather than your situation. When you thank Him, He gets bigger and your circumstances get smaller. Get God's perspective. He is not limited by anything!
I Chronicles 16:27 tell us, "Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place". When you meet with God, you ascend to His dwelling place. Strength and joy are yours! Ask Him what He says about your situation. How does He see it? Write down what He speaks to you.
Try these daily practices:
1) Be thankful every day for the big and small things. Keep the connection with God; think of all the ways He provides for you. Keep your voice of thanksgiving LOUDER than any negative narrative.
2) Be thankful for who God is not just for what He does. What God does in your life, reveals who God is. Thank God for who He is. Be thankful for your relationship to Him. Thanksgiving and praise bring God on the scene. It invites God's glory and His presence to fill your life and your present situation.
3) Journal 5 things daily you can be thankful for. Let gratefulness oil your mind to open up creativity, dreaming and imagining what God will do.