Three Simple Steps to Help Us Be Thankful for the Right Things
Imagine the following interaction:
Wife: “Honey, tell me why you love me.”
Husband: “Why? Well I love you for all kinds of reasons. I love you because you do my laundry every week. I love you because you cook my meals every night. I love you because you always keep the house clean. And I love you because you don’t make me go to your in-laws for the holidays.”
You can imagine how this list of “love items” was received by the wife. What’s wrong with this list? It only deals with what she does and says nothing about who she is. We want people to love us for who we are, not just because we do nice things. If we are only loved for what we do, that love is conditional and can fade away when the good actions stop.
I can’t imagine any of you would respond to your spouse, family members, kids or others with this kind of utilitarian list of reasons for your love. But what if we substitute the word thankfulness for love? Are we thankful for who people are, or for the good things they do for us?
Thanksgiving is a unique day to think about and name the reasons for our gratitude toward God. If God were to ask you, “tell me why you’re thankful today” would your response be similar to the husband’s list above? We often fall into this trap of tying our gratitude only to the things we see God do for us. This Thanksgiving, I want to challenge us to take three simple steps that will help us focus on the right reasons to be thankful.
First, go ahead and make the usual list of all the things you can name in your life for which you are thankful. Be as inclusive as you can and remember that all good things come from God.
Second, consider what kind of God it must be who would fill your life with such blessings. Make a list of adjectives to describe this God (such as loving, gracious, patient, etc.)
Third, write a simple prayer that starts with these words, “Dear God, on this Thanksgiving Day I am thankful that you are…” Use your adjectives to complete your prayer. Keep focused on who God is and what you know of His nature through His actions toward us.
Finally, I encourage you to incorporate this into your Thanksgiving Day prayer. May it be a reminder that we praise the Lord not just for all the things He has done, but because of who he is. When we focus on who He is, our thanksgiving is transformed into worship.
My prayer is that just such love, gratitude and thanksgiving flow from your heart and lips this Thanksgiving, and as you offer this sacrifice of praise may it be returned to you as joy and peace as you gather with family and friends to experience the richness of all God is and all He has done for you just because He loves you.
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