So it is November and that means that we just tricked or treated and now we are decking the halls with boughs of holly. Wait. Oops! I almost forgot about that tiny day at the end of the month that we set aside to jam as many kin or next of kin together around a table filled with turkey, dressing, cranberry relish, and more casseroles than necessary. It is Thanksgiving. This is the holiday when we fill our minds with thankful thoughts and our bellies with stuffing and tryptophan. Sure, Christmas decorations are already up, carols are playing throughout the stores, and Santa is seated in the center of the mall, but right now we give thanks.
Who to Thank
A gift will arrive in the mail, or a sweet gesture of love is given and we want to know who to thank. We send a note or make a phone call expressing our gratitude. We want to be sure to give credit where credit is due. James tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). The giver of all good gifts is God. He uses people and circumstances to bless us, but He is the One working behind the scenes to bless us even in the simplest of ways. God is God of the big stuff and the small stuff. We thank Him for it all.
How to Thank
It is easy to let life roll past us without giving careful reflection to what exactly is happening. Sometimes in the frazzled haze of schedules, sickness, deadlines, housework, and commitments we forget to give thanks. Ingratitude is not that we are unappreciative for what we have. Ingratitude is when we fail to consider the blessing. We take God’s blessings for granted assuming they are permanent things. Nothing is permanent, really. So there is a posture of humility when it comes to thankfulness recognizing that thankfulness is a state of being not a solitary act.
When to Thank
In everything we give thanks (Ephesians 5:20). At all times we give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thanksgiving is an every day practice, really. At least it should be, and we are designed to be thankful people. “Do everything without complaining…” (Philippians 2:14). Ouch. Often we find more to complain about than to be thankful for, when actually it should be the other way. It is impossible to be thankful while complaining. So we make gratitude a practice. Whatever we are complaining about we should instead find something to be thankful for. Even difficult circumstances and people are means that God uses to refine us and mold us more into the image of Christ. After all, God is more concerned with our hearts than with all of the things that we tend to get anxious about.
Giving Thanks in All Seasons
The tinsel and lights are being hung, and presents are being bought, but this is okay. We can give thanks anyway. The last Thursday of November is one day with a little bit of history and a lot of festive traditions to go along with it, but it is still just one day. Let’s make Thanksgiving an everyday practice when we consider all of God’s blessings and rightfully praise Him for them. Keeping a journal helps, but simply expressing thankfulness through daily prayer is a good habit to develop as well. It is not so much the process of how we are thankful, but the heart of thankfulness itself, which matters most. In all times, in all things, for everything, we give thanks to God, the Giver of all good gifts.