It’s almost Christmas! Christmas memes are popping up all over the place and the battle between Christmas and enjoying November for what it’s worth has begun. Although I’m all about Christmas myself, this month of blogs I want to help prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day and the month of November, for that matter, are ‘socially acceptable’ times to dedicate time for gratitude and reflection on the good things that have come our way. So, using that is my inspiration, this month I want to look at gratitude and how God can grant us the eyes and hearts to see His goodness in our lives and how we can be grateful to Him for the good as well as in the struggle of our lives.
A two little phrase has tremendous power. It has the power to soften hearts, uplift others and change our whole perspective. These two words are so important that babies are often taught how to sign before they can utter the sounds: “Thank you.” That thought makes me pause and wonder. We are so quick to teach infants ‘thank you’ but how many times do we as adults utter those sounds? Do we say them too often where it’s second nature, and the words fall quickly yet empty from our mouths? Do we write a note and go the extra step of saying ‘thank you’ in order to show someone how much you appreciate them, their deeds or actions? Better yet, how often do we look towards Heaven and genuinely say ‘thank you’ to God for all that he has and has not given us?
Colossians 3:17 says: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”
Psalm 95:2-3 “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
Just by glancing at Scripture, we see the theme of gratitude and giving thanks to God is woven all throughout the Old and New Testaments. Telling someone thank you because they opened the door for us is nice. Sending someone a “thank you” note is seen as a gesture of kindness. But gratitude goes far beyond either of those daily examples. You see, as believers, gratitude should be our platform we stand on, and foundational to our everyday life.
When we see that God is God and we are not, something happens. When we see God in His holiness, and then look at ourselves, something stirs within us. When we connect with fellow Christians or see the work of God displayed in our life, something rouses our soul. All of these resound a deep sense of gratitude.
You see, when we look at ourselves as we are, we are reminded that nothing is accomplished by our own strength. There is little room or entitlement or consumerism when this happens. Our lenses on how we see the world around us shift from our own wants and desires, to viewing everything from the perspective of what God has and continues to do for us. And this is freeing.
The rest of this month we’re going to look at gratitude and wrestle with what genuine gratitude means when life is going well, and when it is not. But for starters, I want us to get up on firmer ground and change our lenses. The Lord has saved us and redeemed us. Really, if that is all He did, wouldn’t it be enough? This truth alone gives us reason to rejoice and give thanks to God.
So, this week I invite you to pray and ask God if your perspective needs to change at all. Ask Him to give you a heart of gratitude that sees the world around you as a gift directly from Him, and not gifts that you think you deserve. As you face each new day this week, search for reasons to be grateful. The more practice you get in having an attitude of gratitude, the easier it will be maintaining a heart of gratitude…even as you thank God for what he has not given you.
Scripture is pretty clear. I’m just here as a friendly reminder. In everything we do, we are to give thanks. I’ll be honest and say that I want to be here. I want to be the person who thanks God 100% of the time even when I don’t get my way, or when a situation quickly goes south. But I am not. It’s a goal I strive for, and these upcoming blog posts will likely be ‘preaching to the choir’. But continual gratitude is my heart’s desire. I pray it’s yours too. I’m looking forward to journeying with you this month as we search for thankfulness within our hearts and homes during this season of thanksgiving.