When Thankfulness is Hard

Thanksgiving is upon us. Tomorrow, we will gather around a table with family and friends. We will help our mothers or grandmothers in the kitchen with the turkey, stuffing, or mashed potatoes. We’ll wear our nice clothes just to sit in the living room. We’ll stuff our faces, and thank God for all He has given us. 

But as blessed as we are, sometimes thankfulness is hard. Some of us are facing very real issues that obscure our blessings and make feelings of gratitude a challenge. That’s okay.  Sometimes gratitude can’t begin with our feelings; it has to begin with what we tell ourselves. So if you need a little help feeling thankful this season, here’s where you can start. 

Thank Him for Salvation

When I was a kid, I would always ask my parents around Thanksgiving, “what are you thankful for?” My dad’s first answer was always “Jesus.” At the time, I thought that was just what we were supposed to say. But as an adult, the gratitude is much more real.

An almighty God humbled himself to be born a helpless baby in a dirty stable. A perfect God endured human pain and temptations to live a perfect life. He died a criminal’s death, one that I deserved, and walked out of his own tomb. And because that is where my hope lies, I will not taste death. If that is where your hope lies, neither will you. So today, tomorrow, and every day, I am thankful for Jesus and what He has done for me. When you need to build a sense of gratitude from the ground up, this is the foundation.

Thank Him for the People You Love

Gratitude can be hard when we’ve lost someone, whether they’ve passed away or are simply no longer apart of our lives. Reminders of them seem to be everywhere, and we can be haunted by the notion that they should still be here. Those ghosts can leave us miserable, but widening our view can help.

No matter who you’ve lost, chances are there is at least one person in your life whom you love. Maybe it’s your parents, grandparents, a spouse, children, aunts or uncles, cousins or all of the above. There must be someone you can’t imagine life without. Thank God this season that you don’t have to. 

Thank Him for Meeting Your Needs

You woke up today with breath in your lungs. You didn’t have to tell your heart to beat; it just did. Chances are, you have a roof over your head — even if you don’t own the roof, or if it leaks. You have food in your stomach — even if its cheap food, or from a drive-thru. You have clothes on your back, even if they’re years old. Much to our chagrin, God does not promise us an easy, problem-free life. In fact, scripture foretells the opposite for the Christian. But Jesus does promise to supply our needs. Does an almighty God who already went to the cross on our behalf really owe us anything else? I should say not. But if even fallible humans give their children good gifts, how much more will our Father in heaven give (Luke 11:10-13)? If he takes care of the sparrows, how much more will he take care of us? Whether you want for nothing or wonder where your next meal is coming from, you’re still here — which means God provides. Thank Him for that today.

Sometimes gratitude is hard. Even on a day dedicated to giving thanks, our circumstances can make it hard to see the good around us. I write to remind you that it’s there. Begin by thanking God for these things, and the rest will flow from you like a river. 

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