For many of us, last Thanksgiving was unlike any other we have experienced in our lifetimes. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, we were confined to our dwelling places, separated from loved ones, and uncertain of what the next moment would bring. Death visited our doorsteps, and I vividly remember the messages from friends whose loved ones had passed away alone as they waited helplessly outside hospital doors. This year has brought its own chaos, but there is much to be thankful for, considering the storm we have gone through. This Thanksgiving, traditions will resume, and the boisterous laughter of favorite uncles and aunts will mingle with the sweet aroma of sweet potato souffle, collard greens, mac and cheese, and pecan pie.
However, giving thanks should not be limited to the third Thursday of November. On the contrary, an attitude of gratitude should permeate daily life. From the mundane to the meaningful, we should express gratitude at all times and in all things. This practice is difficult because some circumstances don't naturally elicit a thankful heart. Sickness, failure, and rejection can set upon us suddenly, yet no matter our situation, as difficult as it may be, scripture still encourages us to give thanks. Though we are not thankful FOR all things, our mindset in the good and the bad is a joy-filled thankfulness, or gratefulness, to a God who works all things together for His good for our lives.
Being thankful is not just proper etiquette; it serves a unique purpose. Thankfulness brings adequate perspective to our circumstances. When it is a habit, it allows us to see all that has been graciously gifted to us. Thankfulness repels selfishness and pride, allowing us to see how good God really is.
It is estimated that 40 million American adults- roughly 18% of the population deal with some form of anxiety disorder. Anxiety and worry can be debilitating, consuming the mind, leading to cycles of depression. I know from personal experience. God knew our propensity to worry incessantly and invites us to trust Him for provision and purpose. He doesn't just tell us not to worry but commands us to bring those worries to Him in prayer with thanksgiving. Thankfulness drives out fear.
In some form or fashion, millions of families will take a moment today to share what they are thankful for. While this exercise has great value, we must not simply recite the what; we must acknowledge the who. In Him, we move and have our very being. For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.