It always seems appropriate around this time of year to verbalize that which we are thankful. As we gather around the table, gazing at the amazing spread of food, we might be asked to share specific things, people, or circumstances that we are grateful for. But, once that moment is over, it won't be long before the food coma takes over, and the only noise in the house is the football game in the background and the sound of dishes being cleaned.
Let me ask you a question. What if that sense of thankfulness outlasted the moment? What if a grateful attitude lasted a lifetime, rather than a season? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we abandon the tradition of standing around the table expressing gratitude, nor should we spend hours exhaustively listing everything we are thankful for. But what if an attitude of gratitude could impact our lives in ways we never imagined.
How do we get to that magical place of being grateful in all seasons? On the good days when the sun is shining and nothing can stand in our way or the bad days when the weight of the world is too much to bear, what does is take to sustain thankfulness? The first step in developing an enduring spirit of gratitude is asking the right question:
WHY am I thankful?
It's relatively easy for us to vocalize that we are thankful for our parents, children, house, food, and the list goes on. I wonder if the weight of our gratitude gets lost in the tradition of simply going around the table and saying them out loud. I wonder if something gets lost in just expressing gratitude once a year. True appreciation begins when we dig deeper and remember why we are grateful for all the blessings in our lives. In our mind's eye, when we take the time to recall and replay special memories, defining moments, real conversations, and unspeakable joys, a spirit of gratitude extends far beyond mere spoken words. Instead, it has the power to infiltrate our hearts and minds and affect everything we say and do.
There's no better example than the saving grace of our heavenly Father. Our relationship with Jesus should always be on the forefront of our minds. Why? Titus 3:3-8 explains it better than I ever could:
"For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone" (CSB).
When I choose to dwell on the redemption that comes through Jesus and the opportunity I have to become an heir in His Kingdom, my demeanor and perspective are completely transformed. Seeing the world through the lens as a grateful daughter of the King changes everything. This attitude of gratitude causes me to send praises upward and blessings outward. I am motivated by hope, love and desire to give others a reason why they can be thankful. That can be carried out in something small like a smile, or something big like a commitment to walk with someone through a difficult season. Either way, my hope is that we would all be motivated by redemption with all of our actions this Thanksgiving season and beyond.
So, why are you thankful? Are you allowing that perspective to shape the way you view the world around you? Who can you joyfully serve today? What if you could be the "who" that gives someone a reason "why" ... that changes the course of his or her life forever?