We are coming up on the season of Thanksgiving…. so it seems appropriate to start this month with a thought about words like Thankfulness, Gratitude, and Thanksgiving. Being thankful isn’t something that comes natural to us, since our nature is tweaked to be selfish – “It’s all about me!” Being thankful takes a little work. Looking at Gratitude might be a good place for us to start… Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful. All of us can think of things for which we are thankful. Students were asked to write a composition entitled “What I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving”. One wrote, “I am thankful I’m not that turkey!” Another child writes a thank you note to God, “Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I really prayed for was a puppy!” Oh golly, kids little minds are fantastic! As adults, we would probably say we are thankful for our jobs, homes, spouse, children and so on, but what about having Gratitude when life is hard?
Paul shares a lot about thankfulness and gratitude. In Philippians 4:6-7 he writes, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus.” The little part, (which is pretty big news) we sometimes miss here is what happens when we use thanksgiving, it brings PEACE. Colossians 3:15… “let the PEACE of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful”. In many other places Paul writes about gratitude and thankfulness, it appears he thought it was pretty important.
When life is hard, that’s when it is the most difficult to have Gratitude, to be thankful, you have to dig deep… BUT… if we can work to have an Attitude of Gratitude, God promises Peace. What a comforting promise to know if we can put our mind to being thankful, that He will make us peaceful. Sometimes it means looking at the challenges our world, friends, family or neighbors face and maybe our situation doesn’t look so difficult. Or maybe we look at our own hard situation and ask God to show us what is the thing I should be thankful for… someone said, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet”. And maybe, just maybe, if we can have an Attitude of Gratitude then we can turn it into a giving attitude, and share a little thankfulness with others, and then when our hearts are so full with peace, we can turn it into worship toward God as David wrote in Psalms 26:7, “that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders”, or Psalms 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart”.
So as a practice of Gratitude, maybe to do with your children, your spouse, your girlfriends etc… every day in the month of November write down something you are thankful for, and see if you can grow that Attitude of Gratitude. As Hebrews 12:28 encourages us, “therefore since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe”. And then turn that Gratitude into some Love, and share it with someone who desperately needs a little Peace in their world.