You may have heard that you should possess an “attitude of gratitude” as you approach each day, indeed as you make your way through life. Such an attitude does not mean that you skip merrily through life ignoring personal and global problems, rather that your perspective goes beyond the here and now and transitions to the divine. As in accepting God’s will for your life.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a secular event, one where all Americans are encouraged to give thanks to God for the abundance that He has given us. That holiday is on the fourth Thursday in November. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October. In early fall, Israel celebrates Sukkot — the Feast of Tabernacles — a day that signifies remembrance of that nation’s wanderings through the desert. It is also a day of thanksgiving, thus only Israel, Canada and the United States have established national days of giving thanks to God for His provision.
For the Christian, a daily habit of giving thanks is good for the soul and honors God. That attitude of gratitude can be expressed in different ways and not just at Thanksgiving. Not everything we are to give thanks for can easily be said, but with God the impossible becomes possible as we let Him work through our fleshly hearts.
1. Your Salvation. You have committed your life to Jesus Christ and your sins are forgiven. Those sins — past, present and future — have been nailed to the cross. Salvation is a gift, one that keeps giving, and what will help you finish your journey. “He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” (1 Corinthians 1:8) There will be times when you will be tempted to give up, but hold on…your strength may be weak, but our God is strong.
2. God’s Mercy. See No. 1. Salvation is not a one-time event. Or at least the act of you being saved is still unfolding before you. Certainly, you have committed your life to Jesus Christ and have the promise of eternity with Him and you are now walking out your salvation. As you move forward in your journey with Jesus, you will gain a fuller appreciation for His mercy. His mercy on you. His mercy on others. His mercy on a generation that rejects Him. Amazing, is He not?
3. The Bible. Christians in free or religiously tolerant lands have easy access to the Bible. It is a shame that so many neglect God’s little instruction manual or are not in the habit of reading the Bible regularly. God poured Himself out for us that we may have life. He gave us His word so that we may know the Word of God and His will for us. You say that you have trouble comprehending the Bible? “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) God gives you access to Him through prayer — ask Him to explain the Bible to you. Attend a church that places a strong emphasis on teaching from the Bible.
4. Your Loved Ones. Those that are closest to us are the ones we should be praying for regularly. Your spouse. Your parents. Siblings, children, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles and in-laws. Even outlaws. Speaking of outlaws, many of us have loved ones that are on the “outs” with God. Take care that you don’t try to nag them into heaven. Demonstrate unconditional love without approving specific sins. Put the matter in God’s hands and bring the matter to God again and again.
5. Personal Health. The fact that you are able to read this is a blessing. You can see. You can read. You have access to the Internet. Your health at this moment may not be particularly good — perhaps you are battling cancer. The challenge is a steep one, but you also have an opportunity to continue to “do good,” something that those who have stepped into eternity can no longer do. (1 Timothy 6:18) Finish the race with your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
6. Our Leaders. This last election was a tough one. Americans went to the polls and President Barack Obama was reelected. That result does not sit well with some, but it is what it is. Have you prayed for the president lately? Have you given thanks specifically for President Obama? “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) You don’t have to agree with the president and what he advocates, but in Paul’s epistle to Timothy we are told to give thanks for our rulers. The reason? So that we might lead peaceful and godly lives.
7. Your Hope. You are one day closer to seeing the Lord face to face. That is hard to imagine, is it not? For some Christians the thought is a bit frightening as they consider the transition from this life to the next. Will I have enough money to live out my life? Will I be of a sound mind or will I be fully dependent upon others? Today might be your last day on earth or you may have years left. Only God knows. What we do know is that our lives will soon be over, that one day every wrong will be made right and that what is hidden will be revealed. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is not just a book, but it is an event. On a specific day, God will begin to dwell with men and you will be numbered among those who will live in His presence forever. (Read Revelation 22)
You can also give thanks to God for the small things in life such as for the delicious, hot coffee you had this morning and for the bright blue skies you enjoyed this afternoon. Thank Him for your income, for your neighbors, for your home and for your church. Before long, you will have an attitude of gratitude that will transform your heart and one that is also highly contagious.