DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: Adopt the attitude of gratitude

Thank God, He doesn't command us to feel grateful at all times, but something far more achievable: to give thanks.

Rev. Josiah Hoagland
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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Do you ever struggle with gratitude?

Gratitude is on many of our minds with the national holiday of Thanksgiving approaching. For most of us, the past several years have been trying. Some of you reading this have experienced unimaginable hardships in life: the death of a close loved one, loss of a job, injuries, financial ruin, etc. This Thanksgiving may bring up more pain and frustration than it does peace, tranquility, joy and gratitude.

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

What I appreciate about this passage is the emphasis on giving thanks in all circumstances. For most of us, we can come up with reasons to not be grateful in almost any circumstance, much less all circumstances!

This biblical command to give thanks in all circumstances might possibly be one of the least obeyed commands in all of Scripture. For many of us, we desire to follow this command and imbibe the posture of always rejoicing, but we struggle to find what we can give thanks for in all circumstances.


The path to giving thanks in all circumstances, and having an attitude of gratitude, cannot be accomplished in a day. The sanctifying process of developing gratitude is often accomplished through pain, suffering and reflection.

One of the ways that giving thanks is accomplished is by the repetitive process of labeling what we are grateful for in every circumstance. Giving thanks is not necessarily an attitude so much as a behavior. If you are feeling ungrateful, one of the greatest ways to change your attitude is through changing your behavior.

Notice Paul did not write, “Be thankful in all circumstances.” He wrote, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” This makes the monumental task of gratitude much more achievable this Thanksgiving.

So this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to give thanks and guard your heart in the path of gratitude.

The Bible describes healthy and unhealthy spiritual postures for believers.

Rev. Josiah Hoagland serves as mission director at CHI-St. Joseph's Health in Park Rapids.
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