What are you thankful for today? How has God blessed you today, this week, this month, this year?
Thanksgiving is a profoundly Christian holiday in that it focuses us on the God as the true source of all our blessings. As the hymnwriter said, "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all."
Psalm 107:1 says: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
If you find yourself struggling to name what we are thankful for, maybe we can just pray Psalm 107:1 this Thanksgiving: “Lord, thank you for your goodness and your love that last forever.” I think that’s a lot to be thankful for right there, how about you?
To receive a gift and say, “Thank you,” is one of the noblest things a man can do. There is nothing small or trivial about it. To say “Thank you” is to acknowledge that we have been given something we did not earn and do not deserve. Happy is the man who understands that all of life is a gift of God and that life itself is the ultimate gift. Which is why the Bible says, “In everything give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) When we can’t do anything else, we can always be grateful. As someone has said, “If you can’t be thankful for what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.” Ever thought about that? I heard it said once: if you sat around a table with other people and everyone wrote their problems down and placed them in the middle of the table-you would be happy to grab your problems back.
Thankfulness: What is one or two things it takes to be thankful?
One thing it takes to be thankful is humility. We don’t get trophies or rewards for humility. From the moment we enter the world we are urged to get ahead, to climb the ladder, to look out for number one, to win through intimidation, and to prove our success by the car we drive, by the home we buy, by the clothes we wear, our job title and by the friends we keep. And Chicago is a high status-conscious city in America. Walk down the likes of Michigan Avenue and you’ll see $725 outfits for sale, $500 purses and people wearing T-Shirts that say, “The One Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins.” (When I see that, I always want to say, “So what? Dead people don’t play with toys.") To be thankful definitely takes humility.
Something else it takes to be thankful: mindfulness. Anyone know what mindfulness is?
Mindfulness is a state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s a mental state achieved by focusing on one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. For me mindfulness looks like this: I am sad that I need to have surgery due to my acid reflux. Practicing mindfulness I reflect: Chris is thankful he has access to so many foods, has financial blessings to dine out more than he should, and has excess to great hospitals and doctors to correct his problem. Then I think: Lord my problem is nothing compared to so many. I have clean water, heat, air conditioning, transportation, food, family, friends, church, freedom. I don’t have cancer, I have a healthy heart, I have eye sight, i have never had surgery, I have opportunities, I can hear everything and everyone-except a lot of things my wife says to me! :-)
How I practice “mindfulness” is reflecting on how blessed I am and how much worse things could be.
So again, are you thankful today? How has God blessed you today, this week, this month, this year? Can you allow yourself to get humble and practice mindfulness?
Let’s practice: what are you thankful for today? Now, think of a problem you have or a situation you aren’t happy with. Practice mindfulness…..does anyone feel comfortable sharing an example of mindfulness? It doesn’t necessarily have to be your problem, I’m just looking for a good example of mindfulness.
Thankfulness: Did you know if we spent time each day writing down or just naming what we are thankful for-our mood, attitude will be a little more positive? And also when those sad or angry times come to us-if we will start naming what we are thankful for, a calming presence will come? Pondering and naming what we are thankful for brings peace, joy, and maybe even laughter to our spirits. What we think about goes to our hearts and becomes word and actions. Our words and actions come from the heart. Things that get to our heart begin with our thinking. So when Jesus said “Above ALL else-protect the heart for your life flows from it”....we now know that to protect our heart begins with our thinking.
Do you know everyone has problems? Even highly impactful people and the happiest people we can think of- have problems just like you and I. We all have that in common. The difference is some people don’t get stuck on their problem, they don’t let it define who they are and here’s the key—they take healthy steps in dealing with their struggles. They are intentional in growing & getting better.
What are some healthy steps we can take to deal with problems?
Healthy steps such as Bible reading, counseling, church, recovery programs, reading good spiritual books, watching good spiritual videos & shows, serving-giving to others..these healthy things keep the problem they have from growing & paralyzing them. The healthy steps l/we mentioned help us recover, help us heal, help us become more loving and propel us on to the road of better things God has for us.
What are some unhealthy steps we can take towards our problems?
Unhealthy steps like ignoring my issue, escaping from the issue with drugs, alcohol, overeating, over spending, excessive tv, internet or video games only keeps the problem there, likely growing and adds to the problem regret and shame from what we did to cope or escape from our problem.
We all have problems, it’s how we handle them is the difference maker.
Every year we are going to find ourselves in a world filled with problems, doubts, worries, and fears. We sing “Joy to the world,” but there is not as much joy as we would like. Too many unhappy people walk our city streets. Today we aren’t as cheerful as we ought to be. If we ask a dozen people “Why aren’t you more cheerful?” the answers we get are liable to be some form of:
“You don’t know what I’m going through.”
“How can I can be cheerful when my marriage is falling apart?”
“God seems so far away.”
“If you lived with my husband (or my wife), you wouldn’t be so happy either.”
“My kids drive me nuts.”
“I’ve got cancer. How can I rejoice?”
“I’m stuck and I can’t change.”
“People have mistreated me and I’m not going to be happy until I get even.”
“If I had more money, I’d be happy.”
Those answers offer a revealing peek inside what people are thinking and feeling. And they lead us to a crucial insight: What we do depends on what we believe. Action is controlled by conviction. Whatever is on the inside will show up on the outside sooner or later. People who are perpetually miserable generally have made a series of choices that led them to that sad condition. You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).
It’s also true that every year we can find ourselves in a world filled with blessings, faith, peace, contentment. The choice is up to us—what we chose to think of. There’s benefits to being thankful, don’t you agree?
May I give you a bit of homework as a practical way to apply this message? Sometime between now and Thanksgiving, take a sheet of paper and write at the top Reasons to Rejoice Today. Then give yourself five or ten minutes and list as many reasons as you can think of to be thankful. I did that today and here’s the list I came up with in a few minutes:
1) My sins are forgiven
2) I have a Savior
3) Wise Christian friends
4) A good church fellowship
5) The Word of God to guide me
6) The Holy Spirit to lead me
7) A wife who loves me
8) A son that has always been good to me
9) Good health
10) My 4 needs are met: shelter, food, clothing, transportation
11) Too much extra stuff: clothes, shoes.
12) Ability to read
13) Answered prayers
14) People who pray for me
15) A growing business
16) Each day = new start
17) When I die, things get better not worse
Chris & Jenn live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. They were high school sweethearts, marrying in 2001. They are parents to one son, Luke (born November 1999) and two loving pups: Miley & Elsie.