Though our US holiday of Thanksgiving is over, giving thanks should continue. This year I saw some benefits to thanksgiving, some of which I don’t remember noticing before.
Thanksgiving reminds us what we’re supposed to be doing all year long. A man in our Sunday School class shared how the Lord delivered him from a life-threatening illness. Then he remarked, “I should be thanking and praising God every day, but I take this gift for granted.” We all do that, don’t we?
Thanksgiving reminds us where our gifts come from. We forget that even a good job, the availability of good food, clean water, warm beds, family, and so much more, are gifts from God. They could all be taken away in a moment.
Thanksgiving reminds us how God has led or provided for us in the past, through both good and bad times. As people shared testimonies in our midweek service, they tended to recall special moments in the past where God’s help was especially displayed. I call these “Ebenezer moments.” In 1 Samuel 7, after God delivered Israel from the Philistines, Samuel set up a memorial stone and called it Ebenezer, meaning “stone of help.” A few years ago, I was inspired to make a list of “Ebenezer” moments. Going over that list inspires love and praise to God for how He has worked in my life. “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:5-8).
Thanksgiving needs to be intentional. Maybe some people are naturally geared towards gratefulness. But most of us notice the problems, irritations, and imperfections of life first. In Joy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback, she says this: “If we are not looking for the good things, we may fail to see them when they come. That’s part of why thankfulness is so important. Offering thanks to God, no matter what is going on in our lives, is a way of acknowledging that he knows exactly what he is doing and that we can trust him” (p. 28, Kindle version).
Thanksgiving isn’t always a feeling. Another quote from Lydia’s book: “Sometimes thankfulness is a choice we make rather than a feeling we have” (p. 28).
Thanksgiving leads to more thanksgiving. Once you start looking for things to be thankful for, your list keeps growing. At the testimony service mentioned above, after everyone had a chance to share, people started saying, “His story reminds of the time God did this. . . “
Thanksgiving melts away our worries. When we remind ourselves of the ways God has helped and provided for us in the past, we’re encouraged to trust Him for the present and future.
Thanksgiving recalibrates our perspective. I can’t find the source now, but I recently read of a woman who was having an awful start to her day. On her way to work, she began deliberately looking for things to be thankful for. By the time she arrived, her mood and outlook had completely changed.
Thanksgiving shared with others increases opportunities to glorify God. As we heard each others’ stories at our testimony service, we thanked God not just for what He did for us, but also for what He did for others. “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
Thanksgiving shared knits hearts together. Testimony services leave us not only with warm feelings towards God, but also towards each other.
So let thanksgiving continue! Let’s make it a point to look for God’s hand and thank Him as often as we can.
Have you found these or any other benefits to giving thanks?
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)
Bless you, Jennifer
Thank you, Jennifer.
This is so key: “Thanksgiving reminds us how God has led or provided for us.” Reminding ourselves of what God has already brought us through is vital to being able to walk by faith through life’s tough terrain. Thanksgiving is a great vehicle for bringing that about. Thanks for the gentle reminder.
Thank you, Natalie. He does so much for us in everyday ways as well as some of the big events of our lives. Often just a little thought and remembering changes our perspective.
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Give thanks with a grateful heart. Amen. 🙂
Love that idea about recalibrating our perspective! I have been trying over the past year or so to cultivate thankfulness more. I really think it’s starting to kick in, which I am so grateful for. I noticed it over Thanksgiving when I was around a family member who seemed to complain so much — about thing after thing after thing. It made me realize that that person’s perspective was so negative that it was dragging them down.
I’ve been contemplating the fact that we have to be intentional with thanksgiving. Sometimes it bubbles up just after receiving a gift or someone doing something nice for us. But often we have to deliberately look for God’s hand and remind ourselves to be thankful.
It’s true, to, that we can get into habit of grousing and griping, and that changes our perspective for the worse.
Indeed, sometimes all we need to do is remind ourselves how richly God has blessed us and thankfulness is the result! Even during hard times, we can be thankful for what God has done for us, and is doing, and will do according to his promises, and yes it does reset our perspective!
He does so much for us every day. We have to deliberately look for His hand and be intentionally thankful, or we’ll miss a lot.
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Barbara, your observations about how thanksgiving leads to more thanksgiving and also recalibrates our perspective jumped out at me. It’s almost as if we can we can “thank” ourselves into feeling better, isn’t it? Wonderful post, friend.
It is! And the opposite is true as well–when we’re in a negative mood, that feeds into our perspective. I’ve been thinking about the fact that we have to be intentional with thanksgiving. We overlook so much to be thankful for when we’re not deliberately looking for it.
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