Thanksgiving is truly one of the most important
days for the United States of America. It is a
time to be grateful for everything God has given
Giving thanks to God and counting our blessings
is also an important daily activity. Sometimes,
though, we get so caught up in everything we have
to do that we forget to give thanks. And sometimes,
it seems that we have nothing for which to be
grateful. There are times in life when we feel
down, when nothing seems to be going right. Friendships
may have gone sour; school feels overwhelming;
we don't ever seem to get the part in the school
play or win the football game; we always seem
to be arguing with our parents or siblings. These
are the times when gratitude plays a powerful
role in our lives.
We have a choice to make. And this choice
has the power to alter our experience:
- We can complain about the situation, focus
on everything we lack, wallow in self-pity,
feel victimized, and blame others for our misfortunes;
- We can be grateful for what is going right
in our lives, appreciate the good that is ours,
and look for the lessons we can learn.
Sometimes it's tempting to go with the first
choice. But let's think about how we really feel
when we focus on what we lack. We feel:
- Inferior: We're not smart, strong,
or good-looking enough. We don't have enough
money, influence, friends, clothes, things.
- Overwhelmed: Problems seem to engulf
us. We don't know how to solve them. Sometimes
we'd rather just sulk and talk about all of
- Depressed: Life seems kind of worthless,
- Contrary or Moody: Complaining is easy.
We can find fault in just about anything or
anyone. We let little things affect us.
- Victimized: We feel that others are
out to get us, that life isn't fair, that we're
not responsible for our situation, and that
we get a raw deal.
Now, here's the alternative. Let's look at how
we feel when we concentrate on what's going right
or what's good in our lives. We feel:
- Satisfied: We love who we are, like
what we do, and are confident that we're going
in the right direction. We appreciate our relationships
and value our God-given qualities that make
us uniquely ourselves.
- Confident: We know that we can do whatever
we need to do. We find solutions to problems.
We are able to help others. We could climb Mt.
Everest if we wanted.
- Happy: We laugh and smile a lot. We're
energetic. We make other people feel comfortable.
There's a light, cheery atmosphere around us;
a spring in our step.
- Positive or Easy-going: We see the
good in others and ideas. We roll with the punches.
We don't take things personally. The world seems
like a pretty good place to live.
- In Control: We have a calmness about
us, a strong trust. The rhythm of life is settled.
We know that while we experience many different
emotions, we don't have to act on every one
of them. Indeed, we are able to think clearly
and to make good decisions.
What is the power of gratitude?
It changes our perspective, our outlook, our feelings.
It can even change how we express ourselves. As
a result, gratitude changes our experiences.
But how can we feel grateful? How do we get
to experience the joy that gratitude brings when
things around us are really a mess?
Well, we have to take the first step:
- Find ONE thing for which to be grateful.
- Then, find something else for which we're
grateful. It could be as simple as being grateful
for a pet, or for a smile someone gave us, or
for the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Keep going. Pretty soon, we have a gratitude
list. Sometimes it helps to write down the list
because it tends to feel more concrete and real
- When we really fill our thoughts with gratitude,
it's hard for there to be any room left for
depression, criticism, etc.
- And when we are grateful for all the good
God has given us or others, we bring the blessings
and the power of gratitude into our lives.
- And if we're still having trouble finding
something in our own experience, we can turn
to the Bible to reassure us.
At least two different times, with only a few
loaves of bread and a few fish, Jesus fed the
And he commanded the people to sit down on
the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and
gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples
to set before them; and they did set them before
the people. Mark 8:6
Before he broke the bread, he gave thanks. He
had a grateful state of thought, a thought that
saw the infinite possibilities of good, a thought
that saw fulfillment rather than lack. This thought,
this conviction really, provided for the multitudes.
Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, he
expressed his gratitude for God's power and his
ever-present listening ear:
And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father,
I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I
knew that thou hearest me always: but because
of the people which stand by I said it, that
they may believe that thou hast sent me. John
Gratitude preceded the healing. Jesus made thanking
God a habit. And we, too, can make thanking God
a habit. The psalmist writes:
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the
Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most
High: Ps. 92:1
And why should we be grateful to God?
The Apostle Paul exclaims:
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth
us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest
the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
II Cor. 2:14
God enables us to be victorious. Since we're
winners with God, we can't be losers. We don't
lack anything that we truly need because God supplies
all of our needs through the Christ. If all of
our needs are met, then there's no reason to complain,
to wallow in despair.
And what does our gratitude bring into our
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good;
for his mercy endureth for ever. I Chron.
Mercy. Gratitude allows us to feel God's mercy,
which is everlasting. His goodness, care, compassion,
and unconditional Love for us are ever with us.
Even when we make mistakes, God is merciful to
us; He is tender. God's arms are always there
to comfort us. This in itself is an elevating
thought that should lift us out of the pit of
With such an elevated thought, we are open for
whatever God has in store for us. We are open,
ready to receive God's blessings for us, ready
to have our lives changed by the power of gratitude.