Perhaps for some of us, thankfulness already lies buried under Black Friday, Christmas shopping lists, and the hassle of crowded malls.
Isn’t that how it is in our on-to-the-next-thing culture?
And I wonder if we underestimate the power of giving thanks throughout the year to protect and promote our spiritual health? As parents, we may nag our kids about being thankful, “You should be grateful for all you have…” Yet, don’t we forget to continually thank God for all He’s given us?
Let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t take thankfulness seriously enough. I know I don’t.
However, Scripture highlights the supreme danger of not giving thanks to God. Romans chapter one spells it out for us, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile…” The rest of the chapter illustrates how ingratitude blinds its followers, leading them down a steep path where their “thinking [becomes] futile,” their hearts “foolish” and “darkened.” It warns them that amidst the sudden slopes, the sharp turns, the stumbling and slipping, they will lose their way.
However, giving thanks to God lifts us, opening our eyes to the bounty of God’s gracious gifts strewn along our path, scattered throughout our lives in ways both spiritual and material. “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” (Psalm 28:7) Sustained gratitude leads us to worship and openly acknowledge God’s goodness to us. It encourages trust, lays a foundation for hope, and shapes our lives; through it we find our way.
I know this because giving daily thanks to God has wielded its praise-producing, preserving power in my family many times. It began through a simple tradition my husband and I established years ago during a long stretch of illness and hardship. In an attempt to foster a joyful atmosphere in our home, we decided to institute “thankfuls” each night at the dinner table with our children.
It goes like this: After blessing our food, each family member shares one thing they are thankful for onthat particular day. This practice enables us to see God’s faithful touch in our daily circumstances, and keeps the hounds of fear, bitterness, and self pity at bay. In their place, God deposits contentment, peace and laughter, drawing our focus off our struggles and onto the One who reigns over them.
The result? A family harmony and joy which proves that thankfulness is not only a state of mind, but a formidable spiritual weapon.
And that’s something I need every day, not just on Thanksgiving. So this year, let’s not leave thankfulness in the rearview mirror. Instead, let’s refresh our hearts and arm our lives by giving thanks to God every day.