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The Theology of Gratitude

The Theology of Gratitude

Editor’s note: Anxiety can overwhelm every single one of us. In his book, Calm Your Anxiety, Robert Morgan (who is a fellow sufferer) shares how to deal with anxiety as a believer walking with Jesus. Enjoy this excerpt.


Sometimes our fears and worries feel more like wolves circling us in the dark than little creatures nibbling away at our peace. In a world where we’ve been anxious over everything from the fragility of complex systems to the availability of hospital beds and baby formula, we need to nurture thankful hearts and minds full of gratitude.

To approach any situation, any dilemma, any frightening report “with thanksgiving” adds a dimension that melts away anxiety like winter’s ice on a sunny day. No matter our crisis or concern, there are always notable items for which we can be thankful, and finding them is critical to winning the fight. If we don’t find those items and thank God for them, we cannot overcome anxiety.

  • Gratitude is to worry what antibiotics are to an infection.

The old practice of “counting our blessings” is an effective modern treatment for what ails the mind. Giving thanks is essential to mental health.

I believe that’s what the apostle Paul learned as well. He seemed, by nature, high-strung and keyed up. But Paul had learned to weave the concept of “with thanksgiving” into the fabric of his thinking, and gratitude appeared incessantly in his writing.

He spoke of it in theological terms, as though it were as important as any other doctrine.

This shows up clearly in his letter to the Colossians where, throughout its four chapters, we find Paul’s theology of gratitude — which, incidentally, had also become a habit of gratitude — on every page.

“We always thank God,” the apostle wrote in Colossians 1:3. Then down in verse 10, Paul commanded the Colossians: “Live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.” We do that by:

bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the Kingdom of light.Colossians 1:10–12

Colossians 2 continues the theme:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.Colossians 2:6–7

Imagine you were a river. If thanksgiving were measured like water, would you be a dry gulch, a trickle, brimming at the banks, or overflowing at flood stage? How you and I answer that simple question says something about our mental health and our ability to manage our anxieties.

The next chapter of Colossians extends the connection between gratitude and peace of mind:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts... And be thankful... And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. — Colossians 3:15–17

Then we come to Colossians 4, which commands,

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. — Colossians 4:2

This theme isn’t just found in Colossians, of course. It runs like a stream from the first pages of Scripture to the last ones, and it’s interlaced into the Bible as fully as any doctrine. Dr. Al Mohler wrote, “Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act, rightly understood. As a matter of fact, thankfulness is theology in microcosm — a key to understanding what we really believe about God, ourselves, and the world we experience.”1

  1. Albert Mohler, “Thanksgiving as a Theological Act,” November 23, 2016,, thanksgiving-theological-act-mean-give-thanks/.

Excerpted with permission from Calm Your Anxiety by Robert Morgan, copyright Robert J. Morgan.

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Your Turn

What if thanking God is the answer to much of our anxiety? What would change if we chose to actively seek out things to be grateful for? How would that change our perspective? How would it change our relationship with God? ~ Devotionals Daily