Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I trust that you are all enjoying a wonderful holiday with the ones you love, embracing the best this day has to offer—whether that’s sitting down to a scrumptious turkey spread, perusing virtual Black Friday sales, tuning in to a Christmas movie or a football game, or laughing around a family game of cards.
Thanksgiving can play out a little differently for each family, but whatever your quintessential Thanksgiving may look like, I hope you will take some time today to practice the virtue that this day is all about. I know that for many of us (myself included) the spirit of gratitude can get lost amid the day’s festivities, so I would love to offer some guidance.
Henry Van Dyke ( a nineteenth-century theologian and professor) wrote, “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” In an effort to transition from a general sense of gratitude to active thanks-giving, I am sharing a few prompts for us to consider today. These prompts are a little outside the box, with the aim of stretching our gratitude muscles beyond the usual list of reasons to give thanks. I will be taking these prompts to my own gratitude journal and (hopefully) talking over them with my family at our Thanksgiving meal. Perhaps you will do the same.
1: What is a difficult circumstance or challenging time in your life that you can look back on with gratitude? How has God redeemed your pain, turning hardship to blessing or tears of mourning to songs of joy?
2: What is a present irritation that might be a blessing in disguise? How can you give thanks in the midst of your challenge or suffering (and possibly even for it)?
3: Who are some people outside your family and friends that you are thankful for? (Authors, teachers, virtual mentors.) How is your life fulfilled as a result of their influence?
4: What modern conveniences are you most thankful for? What modern conveniences are hindering or distracting you from practicing gratitude?
5: What personal giftings or aspects of your personality are you most thankful for? How can you use these to bless others?
6: What unexpected blessing put a smile on your face today? How might you pass that smile on to someone else?
7: Name a sight, sound, scent, taste, and physical sensation you are thankful for.
8. What daily habits bring you joy? What habits or regular circumstances are stumbling blocks that could provide opportunities to draw closer to God?
9. Who or what do you miss? How might you transition from nostalgia to gratitude towards the past?
10: What attributes of God are you most thankful for? How has He revealed these characteristics in a visible way in the past year?
Heavenly Father, We thank you for your abundant blessings and bountiful provision. Today, and every day, we are grateful for your mercy and kindness, your love and faithfulness, and your steady presence in the midst of every circumstance. We give thanks for your generous gifts of joy, peace, and wisdom, and we pray that you will equip us and encourage us to be good stewards of these blessings. Above all, Lord, we thank you for the gift of your beloved son who gave His life on our behalf. May we always be aware of your gifts and respond with heartfelt gratitude, wholehearted praise, and hearts that proclaim your glory. Amen.