As Christians, we’re called to regularly give thanks to God in our prayer life. However, I too often offer up needy supplications that have more to do with what I don’t have than all that I am blessed with – from my good health and family to smaller but definitely gratitude-worthy things like a hidden stash of chocolate in my pantry for sweet-tooth emergencies.
Yet, being thankful is an important part of our faith and what better time to start counting our blessings than during the Thanksgiving holiday? Of course, what we really need to strive for is to make gratitude a part of our everyday living, not just a once-a-year affair – to embrace “Thanksliving,” a term I stumbled across in a recent issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine.
So, in honor of Turkey Day and the thanksgiving tradition and to help us reflect on what it means to be grateful, I’ve highlighted some Bible verses about thankfulness and gratitude as well as included some ideas on how to bring the Scripture to life by applying it to our daily lives. May they be good reminders of why we should express our thankfulness every day through prayer and by sharing our blessings.
Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusted and found help. So my heart rejoices; with my song I praise my God.”
Life Application: Give thanks to God by singing his praises. Identify at least five things you’re thankful for during your daily prayer time. Here are the first five that came to mind for me today:
1. My family
2. My health
3. My brother Jason’s recovery from a drug addiction. He’s a new man who has rediscovered Christ, has been sober for more than two years and is about to start a full-time job at No Longer Bound, an amazing faith-based program that helps men suffering from drug and alcohol addictions.
4. Finding a $30 dress for Dave’s holiday party. It’s always so stressful picking out a dress for Dave’s annual radiology Christmas party. I don’t want to start keeping up with the Joneses, but I also don’t want to show up underdressed or in something that looks like last year’s style. I know it’s superficial and something I need to work on – to not be so concerned about my outward appearance or what others think of me, but it was a relief to find a sparkly, black cocktail dress that was stylish, fit my postnatal body, including my abnormally large, milky boobs, and didn’t put a dent in our bank account!
5. Rachel Marie’s fuzzy hair. Just looking at her crazy, “mohawkish” hair each day brings a smile to my face.
Psalm 95:2: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving. Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.”
Life Application: Reading and reflecting on Scripture is a wonderful way to show thanks to our Lord, and the Psalms are a great place to start. As someone who loves to sing and has always appreciated poetry, I love their lyrical quality. Today pick up a Bible and randomly choose a Psalm to read. Then thank God for all the wisdom he imparts to us through his Word.
Matthew 26: 26-27: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you…’”
Life Application: Jesus gave thanks during the Last Supper and we, too, can make it a habit to give thanks during mealtimes. Consider starting a family tradition of asking each family member to share a blessing they received during the course of the day at dinnertime.
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks always. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
Life Application: Think of a time when you felt hopeless and maybe even questioned God’s love for you. For example, I suffered the malady of a broken heart when I was in college. I thought I’d snagged myself a good Catholic guy only to have him break my heart into a million pieces. At the initial demise of the relationship, I remember wondering why this was happening to me. (Since then I’ve learned to ask “Why not me?” instead of “Why me?” when faced with trying times.) I admittedly questioned why God would allow me to fall in love with a Catholic man and then have it end so terribly. Flash forward nearly a decade and I am infinitely thankful that guy wasn’t the one. I know now that God was watching over me and knew this person was not the right man for me. Today I am happily married and with two beautiful girls. This was a good lesson in putting my trust in God even when I was hurting and in being thankful for his love and guidance in all circumstances. Let us be thankful to God at all times, even when it would be easier to feel sorry for ourselves and to think of ourselves as unlucky instead of blessed.
Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.”
Life Application: At the risk of sounding Chicken Soup for the Soulish, every day truly is a gift. Start your morning by giving thanks for the day the Lord has made and be aware of all the graces and the gifts he showers upon you – from the sunrise to the food on your table.