November is the month of thanksgiving. We are reminded of it often. A typical walk down a store isle floods us with “Give Thanks” decorations and “Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.” pillows and wall art. I love this season and the beauty of thankfulness. I love the time of family gatherings. I love stopping and reflecting on the goodness of God. Yet, even with all the reminders, the world is filled with the unthankful.
American author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, once said, “Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.” Have you ever met someone like that?
No one likes to be around the person who is negative, complaining, and ungrateful. We know negativity is bad for our spiritual and mental health and the medical community has been warning for years how bad it is for our physical health. Complaining increases our levels of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) which increases our risk of depression, and a variety of health problems. We know this. Why is it then so easy to fall into the trap of being ungrateful?
There is a story told of Charles Dickens commenting about Americans being somewhat mixed up. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year in November we should have 364 days of thanksgiving. “Use that one day each year just for complaining and griping,” he said. “Use the other 364 days to thank God for the many blessings He has showered upon you.”
Did you know that it is the will of God for us to give thanks? “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Notice that the Scripture does not say to give thanks “for” everything but instead give thanks in everything. I am not thankful for sickness, but I can be thankful in sickness. Why? Because it makes me dependent upon the Great Physician. I am not thankful for trials in life, but I can be thankful in them. Why? Because trials teach patience and makes me more like Christ. I am not thankful for financial troubles, but I can be thankful in them. Why? Because when I have a need I’m reminded that God is Jehovah-Jireh – the Lord who provides. We should have a heart of thankfulness in all things.
Years ago, when I was a young mother, our pastor taught through 1 Thessalonians. When he got to chapter 5 verse 18, he challenged the congregation to go through the week giving thanks in every single thing. The next day I was rushing out the door, late for an appointment, when my 2-year-old son dropped a gallon of milk on the floor. My first reaction was to cry over the spilled milk, but the Lord reminded me of the sermon from the day before. Stooping down to clean up the mess, I smiled at my son and told him that we should thank the Lord for this mess. Why? Because it reminded me to pray a prayer of thanksgiving. You see, I was not thankful for the spilled milk, but I did learn to become thankful in the mess. In that moment my son saw his mother as a content and joyful person despite the circumstances. When we live a life, daily giving thanks to our gracious Lord and Savior, others notice, and God gets glory. This is an abundant life, filled with thanks-living.