When I was a young single mom in the mid 90’s, a book called “Simple Abundance” streaked across the literary landscape of North America like a bright shooting star. Oprah Winfrey’s enthusiastic endorsement caused millions of people, including me, to buy it. But, like a shooting star, it quickly faded from view.
The simple premise of the book was that it was possible to experience abundance by living simply and being grateful for what you have. Still a timely message. After reading the book I faithfully began journaling on a daily basis about the five – or was it ten? – things I was grateful for. I hoped this daily exercise would change my life and bring abundance into my life. My kids and I were already living very simply because we had to. Sadly, my situation did not change. The problem was that, for me, the gratitude journal was a means to an end. While I did have things to be grateful for each day, my focus was still on all that I lacked.
After I met the Lord Jesus Christ and became a devoted follower, everything changed. For the first few months after coming to know Jesus, I remained focussed on the things I lacked – and felt afraid and sorry for myself as a result. But now I had a guidebook to life whose author was the very Creator of All Things instead of a mere human being. I remember one day when Jesus’ admonition about worrying in Matthew 6:25-34 really impacted me, and I realized, “If Jesus said it, it must be true!”
So, although I was still very poor at the time, I began to “act is if” I believed Jesus’ promise and to do what He said, “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” As I began seeking the Kingdom of God above all else, I gradually learned to trust Him, and my life was changed. Oh, there were days when I would fall back into worry and despair after checking my bank balance. How on earth was that meagre amount going to stretch until my next payday?
But as I focussed on Jesus’ promise, I learned to rein in the galloping thoughts that led me into doubt and fear, and to stand on the word of God. And I was overwhelmed and amazed at how God did exactly what Jesus said He would do: He provided for all of my needs. He did this through gifts of money from a wonderful friend who prayed for me and felt led to bless me occasionally. He did it through temporary contract jobs, through windfalls of produce from people who had more than they needed, etc. So many ways that I could never have foreseen before I chose to trust Him instead of remaining stuck in the fear of lack.
I am far from wealthy now, but I am better off than I was, and I am so rich in the things that really matter in life, like family and friends that love me, that I no longer focus on the material things I lack. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever I need will be given to me by my Father in Heaven if I just seek His Kingdom first above all else. He has proven His word over and over again as I have given away or lost all of my earthly possessions five times over in the past fourteen years. (The first four times, I gave away my things because I was moving to go and serve the Lord; the fifth time I lo my household possession as a result of a fire in the apartment building I lived in. Over time God replaced my household things each time.)
If you struggle with lack and find it hard to trust in God’s promises of provision, then you’re in a good place! Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to you! John the Baptist proclaimed that the Kingdom of God is “at hand” (Matthew 3:2). That means that it is readily available to you, close enough to reach out and touch. An attitude of gratitude will help you access all that is available to you and close enough to grasp.
The following list contains five lasting changes that having an attitude of gratitude will have on your life:
- You will experience joy on a daily basis.
As you grow in gratitude, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” as the song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, says. It might sound corny and cliché, but it’s true. As you continually look up, giving God thanks for what you have instead of focussing on the things you lack, your attitude will change. You will become more like Him without even trying.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
- You will leave worry and fear behind.
It is hard to stop worrying. I know. It’s a deeply ingrained habit, and I used to think that, as a mother, it was my job. But we all know that worry doesn’t change anything. However, as you focus on the Kingdom of God first, and pray and give thanks, worry and fear will leave you and be replaced by a deep abiding peace. How do I know? Because the Bible says so.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
- You will see life differently.
As you respond to God out of a spirit of gratitude, your world view will change. Instead of always seeing what you lack, and looking for reasons to fear the future, you will begin to notice the many blessings all around you. You will delight in a glorious sunset. Your heart will soar as you watch an eagle fly overhead. The laughter of children will make you smile and bless your heart. Your eyes will be opened to see the countless ways that God is blessing you every day, and your heart will swell with love and thanksgiving.
…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. Romans 12:2 NLT
- You will have more.
As you trust the Lord and delight in Him, giving thanks for all that He has done, He will bless you even more!
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4 NLT
- You will give more.
When you have an attitude of gratitude and the ability to see the ways that God blesses you and provides for your needs every day, you become more generous. You will no longer feel the need to hold tight to what you’ve got, but have a desire to help and bless others as you have been blessed. And it will bring you great joy whenever you do! Giving truly is more blessed than receiving.
For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:1-11
There is nothing wrong with asking for what we need and want. In fact, Jesus tells us to ask and seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). But having an attitude of gratitude pleases our Heavenly, it is His will for those of us who are in Christ.
May God bless you abundantly as you ask, seek, knock, and give thanks for all that He has done for you. He is surely blessing me!