I don’t know where you find yourself this Thanksgiving. Maybe you’re able to spend the holiday at home with family, or maybe you’re away from home but in the company of friends. Perhaps you’re stuck at school or away in another country.
For some of you, your circumstances are ideal. Life seems perfect. Others of you might be struggling and finding it hard to be thankful. The truth is, it’s easy to find something to complain or worry about unless we’re intentionally practicing thankfulness.
This post isn’t to remind you that while Thanksgiving falls on only one day a year, we need to be thankful year round. Not exactly. But we all need to learn to be thankful in any given circumstance and find joy in the smaller, everyday things of life.
My devotional has appropriately been covering the topic of thanksgiving lately. I didn’t know this until I took a spiritual formation class in college, but thanksgiving is actually a spiritual discipline. And that means it’s something we need to work on that doesn’t come naturally for us.
We are challenged in Scripture to give thanks in all circumstances even when we feel the least thankful. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Sometimes I have a hard time looking past negatives, but it’s always when I choose to seek the good in any situation that negative thoughts stop weighing me down.
No matter what we’re going through, we have a reason to be thankful. No matter how isolated we feel, we are not lonely. No matter how much we might be struggling, we are not burdened beyond relief. Even in our trials and tribulations, in our suffering and in our heartbreak, we are called to rejoice.
We are adopted into the family of God, and for that, we can be eternally thankful. If we can find no other reason to be thankful, rejoice in being a child of God. And in dwelling on that, you’ll remember that there are others in that family who love you and that God is walking with you wherever you are. You’ll also start to forget your momentary struggles and realize some of the blessings God has given you.
And God, as our Father, continually works in us and allows us to be tried so we are further refined into who we were created to be. So even in adversity, we can be thankful because God is moving.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3).
I’ll leave you with a quote to dwell on as you reflect on all the reasons you have to be thankful this holiday season. When we seek to see the blessings in our lives, they are revealed when we would otherwise not see them. We miss things when we are focused on what is going wrong instead of what it going right.
“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessing.” —Henry Ward Beecher