reading thanksgiving scriptures at family thanksgiving dinner

Thankfulness

As the holidays approach, I am struck by God’s call for us to be thankful. Throughout the Bible, we are not only encouraged but instructed to demonstrate thankfulness. While I admit that I wish I was more consistent all year long, this time of year does allow each of us to pause and be thankful for our many blessings.

There are times, however, when those blessings feel distant. Times when we struggle to see all that God is doing for us. Some of you out there may be struggling with depression, addiction, a lack of a sense of direction, and more. With that said, God lays out a series of ways that, by expressing our thankfulness, we can grow closer to Him and therefore feel the many blessings that He has bestowed upon us.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
  and His courts with praise;
  give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
  His faithfulness continues through all generations.
—Psalm 100:4–5

There are many ways that God calls upon us to live out our thankfulness. The first of these is through prayer. Throughout the Bible, God is calling us into an intimate and person relationship with Him. Part of this relationship is the appreciation for what He has done in providing us all salvation and redemption. Growing closer to God is a process that happens over time, and prayer is an important means to developing this relationship. That relationship is not just meant for the good in our lives, but as a place to share our deepest struggles. God wants to truly be our Father, which entails being able to share any and all of the things we face.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. —Colossians 4:2

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. —1 Thessalonians 5:16­–18

Sometimes this means overcoming our momentary feelings, our life situation or even our deepest struggles, because what we have been eternally offered supersedes every challenge we face here on earth.

Throughout the Bible, and especially in the book of Psalms, we are encouraged to use music and songs to praise the Lord and to display our thankfulness. Praise can be a powerful way to lift our spirits, and to feel the power of God’s blessings upon us.

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
             I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord most high.
—Psalm 7:17

I will praise God’s name in song
 and glorify Him with thanksgiving.
—Psalm 69:30

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
             let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation.

Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
             and extol Him with music and song. 

For the Lord is the great God,
            the great King above all gods.
—Psalm 95:1­–3

While prayer and song can fill our hearts with thankfulness, we are also charged to live out our thankfulness in our daily lives through our actions and our deeds. Sometimes this means overcoming our momentary feelings, our life situation or even our deepest struggles, because what we have been eternally offered supersedes every challenge we face here on earth.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. —Colossians 2:6–7

Living out our lives with joy leads to a desire to share our thankfulness with others.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
            I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
—Psalm 9:1

God designed us to live in communion as a part of the “body” of the Church. In doing so, we are called to not only be thankful internally, but to outwardly share it with others.

I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
             among the throngs I will praise you.
—Psalm 35:18 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. —Hebrews 13:15–16

There so many ways that we can express our thankfulness, and during this most special time of year, I encourage us all to take pause, to slow down, and to be filled with gratitude. No matter how we may feel in the moment, be it sadness or joy or something in between, expressing thankfulness is designed to lift our spirits and grow us closer to God. As I think of the many blessings in my own life, I am overwhelmed by God’s love for me and what He has done to redeem me. So my greatest wish for each of you is find the strength and desire to express thankfulness this season and to find the joy of God’s love and blessings upon you.

the redeemed log lion inside a crown of throns