The Importance of Gratitude

by Julie Zine Coleman

Ah, Thanksgiving. Every year, my family of 15 gathers around the extended dining room table, ready to enjoy the warm fellowship and good food of the holiday.

While we Americans are proud of our Thanksgiving tradition, we weren’t the first to hold such a holiday. Though the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors did feast together in 1621, the celebration was actually a continuation of their past experience in the Old World.

Most agricultural societies, feasts, and ceremonies were held at harvest. In fact, when God gave the Law to Moses, He included two such celebrations: “You shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field” (Exodus 23:16 NASB).

Why were such occasions so important to God?

A few years back, our political parties were having trouble passing the annual budget. The Federal Government ended up shutting down for weeks. Since my husband worked for the IRS, our main source of income came to a screeching halt.

I am ashamed to admit it, but paying our bills every month stresses me out even in normal circumstances. One morning, as I took the dog out for her walk, I couldn’t shake a general feeling of gloom. So, I recited Scripture to myself as we walked. Philippians 4:6 came to mind. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication… let your requests be made known to God” (NASB).

Immediately, I began to unload on God, voicing the concerns weighing me down. I felt a little better when I finished, but not much. Then I suddenly realized I had omitted two words from that verse: “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known.”

Oops. I needed to turn my complaints into an acknowledgment of God’s many kindnesses. So rather than whine about the mortgage payment, I thanked Him for giving us a beautiful home. Remembering my recently expressed concerns for my children, I thanked God for blessing us with a wonderful, loving family. And, recalling my past griping over the difficulty of writing my book, I thanked God for making me an author and giving me the unbelievable privilege of publishing with Thomas Nelson.

The change in my mindset was profound. Rather than continuing to feel anxious, I returned to my house overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness and involvement. My heart was at peace.

Gratitude supplies the correct perspective. Remembering to thank God took me out of the center, where I never belonged to begin with. Gratitude is God-centered. When we thank him, we are expressing our belief that the things in our life are evidence of a God who is at work on our behalf. When we thank God, we acknowledge that our lives are in His hands. He is in control. As James wrote, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17 NASB).

Gratitude also teaches us to trust in a God that is good. As we count our blessings, we remember a God we can count on. We remind ourselves of His faithfulness, His goodness, and His unconditional love for us. He already gave the hardest thing possible: the precious life of His Son. When we remember what God has done in the past, always acting in our best interests, it is a no-brainer to trust Him for the present and beyond. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NASB).

“God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him…”

This Thanksgiving week, remember to count your blessings. The very act of expressing gratitude will provide an accurate perspective on his power and bring you deeper in your trust for His goodness.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).


About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation. On Purpose was recently named the Golden Scrolls 2022 Book of the Year.

Join the conversation: How do you keep a grateful heart?


2 thoughts on “The Importance of Gratitude

  1. What a perfect reminder at this season, Julie. Especially for those of us who are far from family and can’t be together.


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