Around the time we celebrate the holiday Thanksgiving, many preachers have sermons or articles about it. We often say “Christians don’t need a holiday to be thankful because we should be thankful to God everyday” or something similar. I know I have done that. But when it isn't a holiday, are we ever really conscious of being thankful like we should?
I am currently engaged in an exercise of thanksgiving I want to recommend to you. Melissa and I were traveling back to Charleston on Christmas Day and we found a restaurant that was open. I remember sitting in our car in the middle of who-knows-where eating and literally saying “Thank God these folks came to work today. Otherwise, we wouldn't be eating right now.” And at that moment, I was reminded of the previously mentioned sentiment. Why was I especially thankful for this blessing, but could not recall genuinely expressing that kind of gratitude the day before? I decided it was time I did something about it and resolved to every day specifically think about one thing and give God thanks for it. Now, I have been posting that one thing I am thankful for on Facebook to hopefully encourage others, but it doesn't need to be public.
I know that when I am weak physically in something, I can exercise and gradually become stronger at it. Lifting weights, cardiovascular exertion, speed, and flexibility all work that way. If I want to become better, I work on it until it improves. The same thing is true of our spiritual lives. “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
The benefits I have experienced by doing this have been great. By setting a reminder to myself to be thankful, I slow down, take a breath, and reflect about the good things in my life. We all have something for which to be thankful, even if we are going through a difficult time in life. Isn't that what we sing about in “Count your many Blessings”? I simply want to explain what has helped me for the past month or so and would like you to consider doing something similar. You could keep a journal of the things you are thankful for, so when you have a rough day you can see all the good God has done for you. There are a number of ways this particular exercise could help. Whatever works for you, try it!
This verse keeps me motivated: “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 4:6-7).