By Joyell Nevins
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 NKJV
In my kitchen, a bright sign constantly reminds me that “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” Amen to that! I Thessalonians 5 verse 18 reminds us to give thanks in everything, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
It is God’s will, His desire, that we give thanks and show gratitude in our lives. When Jesus broke bread with his disciples and others, He always thanked God and blessed it first (Matthew 26:26, Luke 24:30, Matthew 14:19 – just a few examples!).
The act of giving gratitude is sprinkled throughout Scripture; it is often connected with praising the Lord, like when Israel is rebuilding the temple in Ezra 3 or in Hebrews when Paul references the altar of the Lord and what God really desires for sacrifice:
“Therefore by him [Jesus Christ] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 NKJV
What it is not connected with is having something “happy” for which to be thankful.
In his book “Unto the Hills,” Billy Graham referenced an old preacher named Matthew Henry who showed this ‘attitude of gratitude’ even when circumstances were awful. Henry wrote after he was mugged: “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who robbed, not I who robbed.” What a perspective and an example!
For me, when I was working with the Fellow Laborers, plans and people often went the opposite – or at least a hard detour – of what the original plan was. Sometimes, that could be frustrating!
But one of the lines I adopted for helping keep it in perspective and still give thanks was “well, at least Jesus Christ is still coming back!” No matter what happened that day, or happens on this day, Jesus is still on the throne, God still loves us, when we become born again we have holy spirit, and Jesus Christ is still returning for his people (read I Thessalonians 4:13-18 for a picture of what that will look like!). That always gives me something to be thankful for!
How about you? What are some blessings that you and your family have to give thanks for? Here are some ideas of ways to recall and share those blessings:
- Make a “gratitude list” or “gratitude journal.” I used to have a pretty journal in which I’d write down five things every day I was grateful for – some were big, and some were simple, but it still blesses me to go back and read them! With my students, I have them fill out a “Gratitude Log,” where for the month of November, they write down one thing every day they are thankful for (it always amazes me the daily blessings they notice that I may take for granted). Bloggers Natasha of The Artisan Life and Jenniffer of Life is Messy and Brilliant have some creative free printable gratitude logs to use.
- Make a “Thankful Tree.” Instead of hanging Christmas ornaments, hang leaves with items that you’re thankful for from the tree!
- How about a “Blessing Box” or basket? Find a fun or colorful container and put slips of paper nearby. Anytime something blesses you or you feel thankful, write it down and put it in the box! I used a basket when I was going through a really rough period in my life, and it really was a blessing just to sit sometimes and read those little slips of paper – it reminded me of God’s goodness even in the hard times!
These are just a few ideas to get you started. We at Christian Family Fellowship would love to hear how you implement the habit of thankfulness in your own lives and with your family. Know that we are thankful for YOU – it’s God in Christ working in people like you that keeps this ministry growing and moving!
May God bless you this week, and remind you of all you have to be thankful for.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your [b]gentleness [graciousness or patience] be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV