In the messes and stresses of family life (especially during the holiday season), gratitude is sometimes hard to come by. Knowing that joy and gratitude are closely related, how can we learn the important spiritual principle of giving thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus?
The apostle Paul teaches powerful lessons about the role of gratitude and joy on the way to contentment in all circumstances. A key example is found in each of his writings, where he consistently included a heartfelt statement of gratitude for the recipients, even if he had never met them! (The exceptions were 1 Timothy and Titus when he started with a very personal, affectionate greeting instead.)
Paul’s heart of gratitude overflowed to the people he loved with a unique description of precisely what he was grateful for, based on how he saw God’s Spirit manifested in them. Some of Paul’s specific expressions of gratitude to those he was encouraging were:
- …your faith is known around the world Romans 1:8
- …you welcomed me like I was an angel Galatians 4:14
- …you love God’s people Ephesians 1:15,16
- …you have been generous partners with me in ministry Philippians 1:3-5
- …you’ve labored and endured in faith, hope, and love I Thessalonians 1:2,3
- …your love showed in your tears for me 2 Timothy 1:3,4
*See complete scriptural examples at the end of the article.
This year we feel that kind of rich gratitude as we have connected with so many of you who have encouraged us deeply. You’ve encouraged us with faithful prayer. Many of you have given generously to help us reach more parents.
You’ve shared your wisdom on critical decisions. Some have volunteered long hours. We’re deeply grateful for the vibrant and authentic relationships we have with staff and CF-certified parent coaches. Parents of sensitive, intense kids have zoom recorded with Lynne their precious experiences and insights. Others have zoom recorded with Jim the impact of Connected Families in their lives.
Your stories of parenting with faith, hope, and love are rich gems to encourage us and share with other parents. We want you to know how much we appreciate you on the journey together to bring God’s healing, life-giving grace, and truth to more and more families.
Like Paul, you can show a heart of gratitude in a tangible way
In this spirit of encouraging and being grateful for others, perhaps this is the Thanksgiving that you look into the eyes of a family member (or more than one family member!) and express gratitude for how you see the image of God in them. Or maybe write them a note or letter. Be specific about what you appreciate about them, whether it is big or small. When we express heartfelt gratitude towards others, it builds connection in a very unique and personal way.
…look into the eyes of a family member (or more than one family member!) and express gratitude for how you see the image of God in them. Or maybe write them a note or letter. Be specific about what you appreciate about them, whether it is big or small.
We thank God for you and pray for you with joy! May you experience God’s rich blessings in your family this Thanksgiving.
The Brain Impact of Gratitude | Ep. 116
Do you know what goes on inside your body and brain when you experience gratitude? This podcast can tell you the answer!
Paul’s expressions of gratitude in detail
- “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is being reported all over the world.” Romans 1:8
- “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4 (Paul saw they openly received God’s wonderful grace and mercy for their very messy version of faith in Christ.)
- “…even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God as if I were Christ Jesus himself.” Galatians 4:14 (After Paul deals strongly with their recent departure from freedom and grace to legalism, he circles back to gratitude-filled memories of them.)
- “…ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” Ephesians 1:15,16
- “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3-5 (and more specifically, gratitude for their generosity in Philippians 4)
- “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you…” Colossians 1:3-5a
- “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 1:2,3 (perseverance in suffering)
- “I thank God, whom I serve… as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.” 2 Timothy 1:3,4 (I am so thankful for our relationship and long to see you!)