“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds”—Psalm 9:1 (NIV).
Did you know giving thanks is not a spontaneous emotion? It’s a habit we need to develop, according to an article by Pastor Rick McDaniel.
After reading the article, I contemplated the above statement and I had to agree with him. I’d never considered that giving thanks wasn’t an automatic response. Think about a recent reaction you might have had, let’s say, to spilled milk. I used to get upset when one of my children—when they were younger—turned a glass of milk over at the dinner table. (They are now grown with children of their own.)
My first response was to jump up and grab a paper towel to sop up the milk. Yes, that’s good, but I sure wasn’t thankful for the mess it made. In fact, I found myself griping about having to clean it up.
Giving Thanks for Spilled Milk
Why should we be thankful for spilled milk? Looking back, I know I should have given thanks for the fact we could afford milk. Doesn’t that change your perspective? It has mine.
What does it mean to be thankful? It means appreciating, focusing on and being grateful for what we have and not fixating on what we don’t have. It’s not impossible, but it is challenging, especially when we live in a culture constantly bombarding us with advertising telling us we need to buy their product.
During this season, stores display and promote their goods, hoping to increase their profit margin. Actually, many begin promoting their wares in September. This makes it even more challenging to focus on what we already have, especially when merchants seem to overlook Thanksgiving, jumping from Halloween to Christmas.
Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving
This month, most of us will be blessed to sit down to a table groaning with Thanksgiving fare: turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, an assortment of vegetables and salads, and desserts like pumpkin and pecan pies.
But before we settle down to enjoy, most of us will give thanks—like the first Pilgrims did—for God’s provision. After overeating, we’ll moan, “Oh, I shouldn’t have eaten so much. I feel miserable.”
I often feel guilty after such a feast. Why? Even though I donate to several charities that provide a hot meal for the homeless, I never feel like it’s enough. Instead, I should be giving thanks, not only for the meal I ate, but that God has provided more than enough for me so I can help others.
Being Thankful All the Time
We need to give thanks on a regular basis, not just on Thanksgiving. Research by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky at the University of California, Riverside reveals the powerful benefits of being grateful, but only if you give thanks consistently.
Lyubomirsky says, “If you don’t do it regularly, you’re not going to get the benefits. It’s kind of like going to the gym once a year. What would be the good of that?”
I’d never considered this comparison, but it rings true for me. If we want to be thankful each day, we need to actively seek ways to express our gratitude to God and to others.
Being Grateful Changes Your Attitude
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can make us constantly aware of each day’s blessings. Most of us tend to focus on our problems more than our blessings. However, giving thanks leads to being more positive, gracious and loving.
We can always find reasons to complain because it’s in our nature. While it may take more effort to find reasons to be thankful, the outcome will eventually change our outlook on life. Instead of a negative attitude, our thoughts will turn to God and His blessings.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul writes, “Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.” Giving thanks should always begin with God. Begin each day by giving thanks to Him. You’ll be surprised when it results in a greater appreciation of His goodness.
I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, or visit my blog for more inspiration at www.carolaround.com. If you need a speaker or workshop leader, you can contact me at the above e-mail or through my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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