It’s hard to believe that it’s already Thanksgiving! This Thursday we’ll set aside time to gather with family and friends to feast and give thanks. As Christians, we give thanks to God for all his blessings in our life.
However, sometimes it can feel forced, can’t it? Sometimes we go through a difficult time or experience grief and don’t feel thankful. We look out in the world and see bloodshed and hate, abuse and harm, wars and threats of war and wonder what there is to be thankful about. We fear for our future and the future of our children and grandchildren.
But, we know what Scripture says: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). We realize we are supposed to be thankful all the time, but the truth is we don’t feel it.
So, we decide that we’ll just white-knuckle our way through Thanksgiving this year. We’ll plaster on the smile and “fake it ‘til we make.” We’ll fill our plates with dressing and when it’s our turn to say what we are thankful for, we’ll say “Jesus” or “family” or “good health” or some other acceptable response and hope nobody sees past our charade so we can move on with dinner.
I think we can all agree that pretending to be thankful is not “the will of God in Christ Jesus” for us. But, how can we truly express thankfulness when times are so difficult? How can I give thanks when I don’t feel it?
A Deeper Thankfulness
If our thankfulness is rooted in the shallow soil of circumstances and feelings, then it will be as fickle as a Thanksgiving day diet plan. But, if our thankfulness is rooted in the deeper soil of God’s unchangeable nature, then when feelings lead us astray and circumstances are awful, we’ll still be able to truly give thanks.
In Psalm 118:1, the Psalmist encourages us to give thanks based on the goodness and love of God: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
Circumstances and feeling change, but God’s goodness and steadfast love never do. Even in the midst of distress and attacks (vv. 5-13), the Psalmist sees the goodness of God on display…and give thanks.
Often, feelings of thankfulness wanes as my awareness of God’s goodness wanes. Scripture says, “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Ps. 33:5, KJV). While it’s all around me, I often miss the thousands of ways the goodness of God is on display.
Because I’ve driven to work everyday for so long, I easily forget how blessed I am to have a vehicle and a job. Because I’ve sat down for a meal every single day, I don’t see the goodness of God on display for providing food once again. Because I’m used to seeing family and friends, it’s easy to look past the blessings of such relationships.
The goodness of God is all around us, but we can easily miss it, especially in the monotony. But, don’t let the regular occurrence of God’s blessing cause you to grow dull to his goodness.
Plant your thankfulness in the deeper soil of God’s unchanging goodness and love rather than the shallow soil of feelings and circumstances. Then, even when feelings fade and circumstances are rough, you’ll see the goodness of God which will stir your heart to thankfulness. Even if you’re are in a rough season, take time to draw your attention to God’s goodness and give him thanks.