We often view gratitude as an outcome. We see it as resulting from good things in our lives. Something beneficial happens, and we are thankful. However, if we see gratitude as something dependent on circumstances, we’ll experience only a tiny fraction of its benefits. We’ll sip on the goodness of God rather than being “filled with all the fullness of God,” as we see in Ephesians 3:19. But what if God wants us to experience more gratitude and enjoy all of its benefits? What if, in every circumstance — the good and the hard — we can nurture a grateful heart?
How we view circumstances drastically affects how we walk through them and what growth we might extract from the hard materials of life. In Scripture, God makes it clear that there is beauty to be found in hardship and that, by faithfully enduring what life brings, we can deepen our faith and knowledge of God. James 1:2-4 says:
By joyfully enduring trials, our faith becomes steadfast and complete. This is only possible through Jesus, who is, as Hebrews 12:2 says, “the author and perfecter of faith.” Jesus can refine our faith through adversity.
Knowing this, our perspective shifts. Instead of narrowing in on the conditions around us, we can take a far-sighted view in light of eternity. Our perspective becomes one that looks first and eagerly at what God is doing in our hearts, and we become grateful for the product of a refined faith and the process it took to get there.
As our perspective transforms, our mindset follows suit. When we see something through a new lens, our thoughts are refreshed. They escape well-worn ruts of negativity and look to a new horizon of everlasting hope. Romans 5:3-5 says:
Cultivating a grateful heart has much to do with our mindsets, and this practice is cyclical. Turning our thoughts to Christ and His refining work, we’re reminded of our hope in hardship. As we’re reminded of that hope, directing our thoughts becomes easier. Our thoughts are trained, and we find that they don’t wander so far from God’s goodness. This is what it means to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind,” as we read in Romans 12:2.
As we wade through hardship’s daunting waters, we can look down and glimpse, like fish swimming between our feet, hints of life. We can ask ourselves this question: “What good can I find here? How can I focus on what is true, noble, just, pure, and lovely?” Thinking on these things is a powerful way to nurture a grateful heart and shift our mindset.