What Are You Thankful For?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thanksgiving is most definitely an American holiday but I’ve always loved the idea of having a day to focus on the positive things in our lives. The blessings that the Lord has afforded us, despite always falling short of His expectations.

As we close out the year, the first year in a while without lockdowns, there are lots of things we could focus on that could bring the mood down. However, the fact that we have gotten this far, is something to be proud of and as the pressures of the festive season build, it’s great to take stock of all the wonderful things that have happened this year. The big and small blessings God has bestowed on each of us and our families, in the different aspects of our lives. So this week I want to ask you, what are you thankful for?

What Is Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States that officially started in 1789. In the United States, Thanksgiving is historically a day to praise and give thanks to God for our blessings and ask Him to heal the nation’s wounds. It was also a national day of penitence to humbly repent for our sinfulness and selfishness.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving:

As a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Thanksgiving For Christians

In the Bible, thanksgiving means devotion, sacrifice, praise, or an offering. Thanksgiving is to glorify God as an act of worship, giving thanks for all things as part of God’s providence. Allabouthistory.org gives a beautiful definition of thanksgiving as primarily about relationships:

The true meaning of Thanksgiving focuses upon relationship. Thanksgiving is a relationship between God and man. Upon their arrival at New Plymouth, the Pilgrims composed The Mayflower Compact, which honored God. Thanksgiving begins with acknowledging God as faithful, earnestly giving Him thanks, in advance, for His abundant blessings.

How Can We Participate In Thanksgiving?

Not being in the US, doesn’t mean we’re not able to take part in our own way. It may not be a public holiday, and it’s unlikely for friends and family to gather around a massive turkey roast as yet, but we can look to the Lord, ask for forgiveness for the ways in which we have fallen short, and thank Him for getting us this far with the small and big blessings along the way. It’s so easy to focus on the negative, but having a day or two to really focus your mind on what you have to be grateful for, can really help boost your mood, as life isn’t all doom and gloom. It also reminds us that God is ALWAYS with us. As we enter Advent and focus on #GodWithUs, as Jesus was born to save us from our sins, this is a time of hope, gratitude and thanksgiving. He is with us through the good and the bad.

One thing my best friend and I started doing earlier this year, is to make a list at the end of each day of all the good things that happened. To keep each other accountable we take a photo of our lists and send them to each other (this really helps if one of us has forgotten to do it!) and I have found this useful to change my focus and perspective to keep looking at the positives. Life is hard on a day to day basis, add the news which perpetuates negative stories every day to the mix and it’s easy to get bogged down. Spending just a couple of minutes to see what good things happened that day – it can be as small as enjoying a cup of coffee/tea! – really helps.

So I challenge you to do this at the end of today. Pick up a notepad and pen (or your phone) and make a list of what went well today. I guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face. If you’re able to do that, before the end of the week make a list of all the things you are grateful for this year. Again, I bet you it puts you in the right frame of mind as we head into Advent and the festive season, to celebrate our Emmanuel.

A Prayer For Grace & Gratitude

Dear Heavenly Father
Please help me to accept both life’s little challenges and Your restoring help with grace and gratitude.
Help me remember that no problem is too large or too small for me to call out to You.
Please help me remember that a heart can be filled in with joy every day, not just the easy days.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Kelly Barbrey

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