‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to us, but grumbling does. No one had more cause to grumble than Joseph. Abandoned, enslaved, betrayed, and estranged. Those are the chapter titles for his life story. Yet when he talks about it you won’t hear a tinge of bitterness. Instead, you’ll hear the opposite. In naming his two sons, he makes them living, breathing, lifelong testimonies of his gratitude to God. ‘Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”’ (Genesis 41:51–52 NLT)
Notice two things. First, Joseph looked at the past and gave God thanks for what He had brought him through. And you need to do that too. Whether it’s stuff others did to you, or stuff you did to them, God’s grace brought you through it. There’s only one good reason to bring up the past, and that’s to remember how God guided, protected, and blessed you in it.
Second, Joseph looked at the present. ‘God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.’ Do you remember a time when you thought you wouldn’t make it? And when others thought you wouldn’t make it, too? Look what the Lord has done in your life! In spite of the obstacles and the opposition He has blessed and taken care of you. Turn off the complaining tap and turn on the thanksgiving tap. ‘In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’