Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this season turns your attention to the myriad of blessings God has directed your way. Even in tough times, believers have much that can generate gratefulness and joy. I planned this column to stimulate some ideas that you can use personally or with your family to fill a time of thanksgiving prayer.
The list below begins with things for which everyone can give thanks. As the list progresses, you will find some categories that may not trigger thankfulness. That is natural. But, everyone has some foundation for joy and thankfulness.
Thank God for your spiritual life and all of its benefits. God created plans for your life, and then created you. God sees value in you that has no basis in your accomplishments or situation. God has offered you His presence generally and the indwelling of His Spirit. God saved you from His wrath and gave you eternal life. God has granted you several spiritual gifts and uses them and other means to work through your life to make a difference in the world. Finally, God has given you a church family and other Christian friends. Thanks, God.
Thank God for your life opportunities. I thank God for just being alive. Physical life is such a treat. Also, because I am alive, I enjoy chances to do all kinds of activities. Whether or not I actually do them, I have the chance. I also have some amount of impact on the people and world around me - or at least the potential to have impact. Last, I enjoy the privilege of living at this time, in this place, and with these people. Thanks, God. Thank God for the people around you. Most people have at least a few friends that bring them joy. Some have many such friends. God also gives us family members that bless our lives. And, remember the co-workers that surround you most days (if you are not retired!). Thanks, God. Thank God for your abilities. Everyone has a personality and skills. Those things make every person unique and valuable. Your personality shapes your opportunities to contribute to the world. Skills shape those contributions even more. Thanks, God, for my personality and skills.
Thank God for your circumstances. Some circumstances may seem stifling or even oppressive. But, some are blessings. God has put you in a great nation. He has set you in a wonderful state. He has placed you in your city and in your neighborhood. He has provided you a job or position at work. He has surrounded you with people, some who are friends and family and some who are opportunities for ministry. God has also granted many people a measure of financial stability. Thanks, God.
Thank God for your physical health. Everyone I know is living. Though they have varying amounts of health, mobility, and strength, each one of them is still breathing - so are you. Any measure of health brings a person unique and special opportunities. Thanks, God.
Thank God for all of your things. I have learned that stuff matters to most people. The place that we dwell matters: apartment, duplex, single-family home, retriement center room, etc. Vehicles matter, even if they are as simple as a bicycle. Many other possessions matter, too. In addition, God has granted many adults a measure of wealth that blesses them and others. Thanks, God.
Thank God for general amazingness. The beauty of creation is limitless. In fact, I have nicknamed God as “Painter of the Skies.” The sky changes every hour of the day. If you live out of town, there are many other great vistas of beauty to stir your thankfulness.
The collection of civil freedoms people in our nation enjoy is amazing, too. Other nations have few if any of our freedoms. God revealed Himself to mankind. That is amazing. Many people still possess a basic sense of morality, despite all of the moral erosion that takes place. Many people still practice generosity with their time, their attention, and their resources. Those things are amazing. Thanks, God.