How to be Thankful: Focus on the Outside

Is focusing on your trying circumstances, resulting in you discouraging others? When we catch ourselves focusing on the negative at the expense of being thankful, we must ask God to realign our focus 360 degrees: the downside, upside, inside, and outside. Let’s focus on the outside.

Regardless of our circumstances, we can encourage others. This is outsight that is helpful. Jesus thanked the Father for listening in order to encourage others to do the same (John 11:41). The Levites thanked and praised the Lord every morning as an encouragement to God’s people (1 Chronicles 23:30).

Paul was notorious for thanking God in order to encourage others. Amidst his fellow stranded travelers, Paul thanked God for His protection and provision during their shipwreck, recognizing both the downside and the upside from the inside (Acts 27:35). His gratitude affected the outside. They were all encouraged (Acts 27:36). Paul lived a life of 360-degree focus on Christ.

Jesus encouraged others with His generosity and thanksgiving. When He saw five thousand hungry men, Jesus thanked the Father for His provision before He multiplied the five loaves and two tidbits of fish that left all of them encouraged (Matthew 14:19; 15:36; cf. Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16; John 6:11, 23). He did the same when feeding the four thousand (Mark 8:6, 7). Jesus thanked the Father for His provision before opening the eyes of the two on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30-31). They left encouraged (Luke 24:31).

God created everything in order to encourage us. Paul told Timothy that everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:3-5).

Focus on the outside. Amidst your stormy circumstances, encourage others by thanking God for them. Write in your journal the names of people for whom you are thankful. Include why you are thankful. Pray for God to bless them. Then send at least one of them a hand written note expressing your gratitude in Christ. Both you and they will be encouraged.

When faced with stormy circumstances, we are called to focus on Christ. Magnifying Him in our lives makes our circumstances fuzzy. When we are anxious and tempted to be ungrateful, we must ask God to realign our focus 360 degrees by surrendering the downside, upside, inside, and outside to Him. Giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s desire for lives in Christ. His hindsight, foresight, insight, and outsight provide us with the supercharged joy of thanksgiving that is mindful, hopeful, worshipful, and helpful.

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