There are few things better than a couple days off work, mountains of food, and an intentional time of thankfulness. We call this time Thanksgiving. We set aside the last Thursday of November to spend time with family and ask each other what we’re thankful for. But Thanksgiving is over, and the routine has kicked back in. How do we maintain this heart of thankfulness every day?
There’s always something to be thankful for.
When I struggled to fall asleep as a kid, my mom would tell me to work my way down the alphabet and find something I’m thankful for with each letter. Some nights I could make it to R, S, or T, and other nights I went through the alphabet multiple times. Between people, animals, and food, there was a treasure trove of things to be thankful for. This simple exercise was a blessed reminder that even in our most difficult days, there’s much to be thankful for. For believers, at the very least, we can rejoice in gratitude in the gospel. God has secured our salvation in Christ. This alone can place our thankfulness in perspective. As easy as it is to focus on the difficulties before us, make a concerted effort to move toward all the things we have to be thankful for.
Thankfulness is an intentional attitude.
It seems my default attitude is not gratitude but discontentment. Instead of thanking God for the job I have, I may long for a better or higher paying opportunity. Instead of thanking God for my home, I may begrudgingly look at others’ homes in jealousy. If we are not intentional about our thankfulness, we’ll be awakened to the frustration of our ingratitude. I was challenged recently to pray for five minutes straight without asking or telling God anything, but to simply thank Him. It was an eye-opening experience to realize my ingratitude, even in my prayers, and my focus on what I wanted or desired. Reorient to intentionally give thanks in the peaks and in the valleys.
Let others know you are thankful for them.
There has never been a time that I’ve been discouraged by someone else’s encouragement. If we are thankful for someone in our lives, tell them. Send a note of thankfulness to your pastor, family members, friends, or coworkers. Not only will it remind you of the blessing of loved ones, it will greatly bless the receiver. Send a short personal letter, email, or text, or pick up the phone and share encouragement or thankfulness for that person.
Focus on Scripture.
Verses that address thankfulness in the Bible are plentiful. Focusing our hearts and minds on these verses can reorient us around a proper perspective. Check out the list below for some helpful suggestions.
Helpful Scripture Suggestions:
Psalm 100 (ESV) | Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
1 Corinthians 15:56–57 (ESV) | The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:14–17 (ESV) | And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 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 5:16–18 (ESV) | Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV) | Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.