And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (ESV)
It’s Thanksgiving night — and by now, you’ve watched the parade, gathered with family, enjoyed the customary culinary indulgence and seen roughly half the football teams that played today lose. I love Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays — mainly because, occurring as it does so close to Christmas, it’s harder for it to be co-opted. People at nearly every point on the spiritual spectrum — from skeptics to full-on disciples — can find a place around the table and celebrate. And while it’s true that our merchant friends are officially opening the Christmas shopping season now, there is still something about setting aside a day to thank God that just can’t be eclipsed. I submit to you, however, that thankfulness is important every day — and here’s why:
Being thankful keeps you open.
When you thank God for the good in your life, your perspective changes. You may not have the job, the living conditions, the health or the relationship you want, but giving thanks enables you to find the good in your circumstances and that makes it possible to see new opportunities.
Thankfulness helps you cultivate an abundance mindset.
Bowing to God in gratitude, helps you to realize that He is the source of every good gift. This awareness enables you to see past any current lack with the knowledge that God made the world, that He made it to be good, and that He is neither too tired nor too weak to provide for the ones who acknowledge Him and seek Him.
Giving thanks helps you take the high road.
When you recognize that every gift you enjoy comes from God, you begin to realize that you can afford to be more gracious. Even if you are a self-made man and you’ve worked for everything you have, thanking God allows you to frame your circumstances using transcendence as the reference point. God is capable of evening the score.
Being thankful helps you take the long view.
When you place yourself gratefully under the hand of God, it will help you evaluate today in the light of a grander scale. While they’re going on, problems can take on an outsized importance. It’s easy to believe that what’s happening right now is what will happen from now on. Giving thanks in the midst of your difficulties — and giving thanks for past blessings — will allow you to see beyond them into a more hopeful future.
Giving thanks helps you see beyond yourself.
Acknowledging the source of your blessings helps you to realize that divine providence is at work — and that God is seeing to your needs. When you are not fixated on yourself, you are able to invest more of your attention and your resources in improving the conditions of others.
Being thankful leads to contentment
Counting your blessings places your emphasis on what you have rather than on what you don’t. Learning to appreciate what you have is called contentment. If you want to be truly happy, learn to be content.
One last thing
I hear a lot of people describing Thanksgiving as an occasion to say thank you in a general way — as if somehow we need lessons in etiquette. For the record, I think we do lack manners, but Thanksgiving is an occasion specifically to thank God — not the universe, not our customers, and not just to speak the words “Thank you.” By all means expressing gratitude to others is a good practice, but let’s make sure we’re thanking God first.
So how about you? What are you thanking God for this Thanksgiving? Add your comments below.