The older I grow, the more I appreciate Thanksgiving. As a Christian, I believe this holiday celebrates a virtue followers of Christ are to embody—thankfulness! In First Thessalonians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians to, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How do these verses become reality in a person’s life? I think perspective is everything as it relates to thankfulness.
God desires you to be joyful and to give thanks! In thinking about this it seems that thankfulness is the antidote to discouragement and ultimately produces joy in a person’s life. There’s an old hymn titled Count Your Blessings. The refrain instructs the hearer to, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God hath done!” There is great power in simply naming things one is thankful for because it forces the individual to back up and take the larger picture into perspective.
Whenever a wave of discouragement comes in my family, we play the “Thankful Game” with each other. What is this game? I’m glad you asked. We simply work our way through the alphabet giving thanks for something that starts with each letter. For example, I would say, “A – I am thankful for my wife Anna. B – I am thankful for the Bible. C – I am thankful for chocolate covered doughnuts at Petersons, etc, etc.” I know it sounds silly, but it never ceases to amaze me how much better we feel after intentionally giving thanks for the many ways in which God has blessed us.
God has blessed us each tremendously whether we acknowledge it or not. My prayer is that we each would cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in our hearts. I’m convinced that as we express our thankfulness our joy will increase. Ultimately God is pleased with our spirit of thankfulness and others are blessed. Albert Barnes, a theologian from the 1800’s, once said, “We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” Regardless of your present situation, what are your thankful for today?