Living a Life of Gratitude


I love reading the Psalms to receive encouragement and comfort and to help put words to the praise I feel in my heart. David wrote many of them during the most difficult times of his life. He wrote Psalm 54 while on the run, alone and afraid for his life—hiding from King Saul, who wanted him dead. Saul hunted David because he had been anointed as the future king, and Saul was murderously jealous. Anyone who helped him would be risking their own life.

If I were in David’s shoes—knowing my life was in danger and anyone who came to my aid would be killed—the fear and isolation would drive me to despair. Yet, David continued to inquire of the Lord as we read in 1 and 2 Samuel. Despite the circumstances, David praised the Lord. I love that even as his life was in danger and he was being betrayed, he kept his focus on God.

“But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly." – Psalm 52:8-9 (ESV)

Faith, praise, and hope were on David’s heart even while he was terrified for his life. Can we say these words during any circumstance?

In seasons where I have struggled with depression, anxiety, or discouragement, I’ve noticed that the most common root is a lack of gratitude.

One summer, when our family moved from Kansas to Georgia with the Army, a lice infestation affected everyone in the family but my husband. It was not a great way to meet neighbors and get established in our new community. Instead of getting to know our new neighborhood, I combed my hair for hours during the first two weeks. The laundry I washed and the money and time we spent to get rid of the lice were overwhelming. I had a horrible attitude.

Finally, I was cleared to be around people again, and I attended a dinner for our Battalion commander’s wife. While there, I sat at a table with a beautiful woman named Ashley, who seemed to be glowing. After talking, I realized she was battling breast cancer and covered her bald head with a scarf. I came home that night overwhelmed with conviction. Ashley would love to comb her hair for hours each day. I realized what I was dealing with was annoying and inconvenient, but I had much to be grateful for. When I combed my daughter’s hair that night, I praised the Lord with gratitude for our health and the ability to clean and take care of my family.

Pain is pain. Hard is hard, but perspective and praise will change our attitude towards the situation. Psalm 57 was written by David when he fled from Saul into a cave. As he feared for his life, he offered praise.

Three Ways to Praise in All Circumstances

1) Remember where your hope comes from

David remembers who he is praising. Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me” (ESV). Even in the worst of circumstances, salvation is always the constant we must be thankful for. Pray Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (NKJV).

2) Pray for an undivided heart

David stays confident in God no matter what he is facing. I often return to David’s prayer for Solomon in 1 Chronicles 29. Verses 18-19 say, “…keep this desire forever in the hearts of your people, and confirm their hearts toward you. Give my son Solomon an undivided heart to keep and carry out all your commands, your decrees, and your statutes….” (CSB)

3) Be thankful in all circumstances

Sometimes you have to remind yourself to wake up your sense of gratitude as David did. Psalm 108:1-3 says, “My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations” (ESV).

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 says, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit” (CSB).