During the holiday season, we often try to be more thankful. With Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December, it’s easy to spend two months out of the year being grateful for God’s grace and His gifts to us. But what about the rest of the year? It’s not that we aren’t thankful during the other ten months. But when you’re not actively thinking about and pursuing a certain mindset, it can go by the wayside. Sure, you’ve taught your children to say “thank you,” and you demonstrate that same thankfulness in your own life. But there’s a difference between reflexively saying “thank you” and being grateful enough to recognize the daily gifts God gives us and to thank Him for them as they come.
For example, not long ago I told a friend that my life had become a series of unfortunate events. My air conditioner had died with two months of summer left. Repairs would cost a pretty penny I couldn’t afford to spend. This was just one of the “unfortunate” events, and not even the most expensive one. I had a whole list of problems. But then I stopped and listed out all the blessings I could think of from the year and found that they greatly outnumbered the unfortunate things. It’s easy to devalue God’s daily blessings to us when all we’re looking at is the negatives. So I have a couple of challenges for you.
• Be Mindful about Being Thankful
I don’t have to tell you why you should be thankful. For many of us, however, gratitude is a reflex. We’re grateful when someone gives us something or does something for us. We don’t even have to think about it. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” In everything give thanks. I should have been grateful when my AC died. It’s definitely not an automatic response to be grateful when you have no AC during a South Carolina summer.
But if you take the time to think about the things you don’t want to be grateful for, you can see how they can be blessings in disguise. Even if the only thing your trial teaches you is that His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9), you can be grateful for that. It may take some work, and you may need to reset some of the default settings in your heart, but it is possible to see how God is blessing you when you go through an “unfortunate” event.
• Start a Year-Long Thankfulness Project
If you really want to focus on thankfulness for the entire year, you’re going to need to turn it into a habit. Find some way to record the daily blessings you experience, whether the blessing is a safe field trip or a friend’s support during a hard time. You can fill a jar with slips of paper covered in blessings, or you can dedicate a journal to your family’s blessings. You could even start a OneNote notebook of blessings. When the jar is full, or you run out of pages in the journal, or you just need to remember God’s blessings, reread what you’ve put down. Then empty out the jar, get a new journal, open a new OneNote file, and start over.
Worry can’t tear you down if you’re buried in blessings!