If you couldn’t take your seat at the Thanksgiving table until . . .
If you couldn’t turn on the television set and watch the game until . . .
If you had to wash ALL the dishes unless . . .
If our Thanksgiving holiday couldn’t take place until we created a list of one hundred reasons we are thankful, I imagine all of us would come up with one hundred reasons. The same would be true if the list required a thousand.
We would rack our brains, ask for help, and make the list a high priority if it were the only way to sit at the table, enjoy our families, and maybe get out of the cleanup later.
I decided I needed to create a list of my own before I presented the idea to you, my readers. I began to mentally count off all of the things I was most grateful for. The first fifty came quickly and easily. Then I started to bog down just a bit.
I began to make the larger categories like “family” into something specific about each person. I am grateful for my faith, but I began to break down that thought into specific categories like grace, forgiveness, salvation, calling, comfort, and more. I was grateful for my health and then was able to get more specific with that.
In the end, the last fifty began to take me from completing a challenge to a truly personal sense of gratitude for the things God has blessed and filled my life with. I could have continued past the one hundred mark, except I needed to type this blog post instead!
Give it a try
I wish I had a way of convincing all of you to take the same journey of gratitude. I would love to hear how far you got before you had to dig a bit deeper.
It’s actually shocking how many things we should be grateful for that we probably just take for granted.
I’m not really grateful for my dishwasher unless I stop to think about the days we didn’t own one. I’m not thankful for my refrigerator unless I consider what life would be like if it were broken, or worse, not yet invented.
I’m grateful that I can write this blog post on a computer instead of an old-fashioned typewriter. Did you ever use Wite-Out® to cover your typo? Now, I can delete whole sentences, even paragraphs, with ease.
Are you grateful for your car? Your can opener? Your microwave? Your heater?
Last winter, when our power went out for days, it got down to forty-eight degrees in our house. I was grateful for my gas logs, my battery-powered lantern, and the stack of soft blankets that kept us warm.
Honestly, if you take a mental journey through your home, you will easily reach the one hundred mark on your list.
Why don’t we walk through life feeling greatly blessed?
I hope my list of one hundred will continue to grow and my “attitude of gratitude” as well. It is a joyful thing to remember all that we have been given in our lives.
The psalmist wrote, “Oh give thanks to the Lᴏʀᴅ, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1). God’s presence in my life was high on my list. My “deeper dive” is the realization that I will have his presence, his power, and his unending love in my life forever.
James told the early Christians, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). I’ve taught the book of James several times and don’t remember noticing the first few words of this verse. We have so many gifts to be thankful for. Some of the gifts are good, but there are other gifts in our lives that are perfect.
If you had to create a list of one hundred perfect gifts, what would you say?
Only God can give perfect gifts because only God is perfect. (It kind of takes some pressure off the gift list for our Christmas holiday, doesn’t it?)
Christians are greatly blessed because we are greatly loved—now and eternally. Doesn’t that give light to your thoughts and a different perspective on your day?
The deepest gratitude
What I found interesting as I reexamined my list was that it didn’t include any of the difficulties I have faced. Did yours?
If I am honest, the tough times of my life have taught me the most about God. Not all blessings feel like blessings.
Paul told the church in Thessalonica, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
If you had to make a list of one hundred things you learned because of the dark, difficult times, what would be on that list?
I couldn’t help but think of Daniel when he knew the document had been signed that meant his daily prayers might cost him his life (Daniel 6). Scripture says, “He went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10).
Expecting to die, Daniel got on his knees and “gave thanks before his God.” But, as terrifying as it would have been, what did Daniel learn about God because of the lion’s den?
Gratitude for God transcends the circumstances of this life when we learn to be grateful to God for allowing any circumstance to draw us closer to him.
That’s why Paul said, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is God’s will that we know we are always loved.
I hope that knowledge will be number one on all of our lists.
Christians have a LOT to be grateful for. Let’s be like Daniel and “give thanks” for all our blessings: the good, the perfect, and even the painful.
If God is drawing us near to him, we can be grateful.