Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.—Psalm 95:1,2

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful…singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.—Colossians 3:15-17

It’s Thanksgiving today, which means many of us will spend the day getting ourselves ready, traveling, preparing food, wrangling kids, doing dishes, and a hundred other good things that will distract us from actually taking the time to be thankful.  Being thankful requires sitting still for a few minutes and reflecting on the reasons you have to give thanks.  We are not a society that sits still very well, and holidays can be especially busy and full of worthwhile distractions.  Today it’s my intention to take a moment out of the busyness and truly give thanks.

I know I have a lot to be thankful for.  But I also know that many of those things are unique to my situation.  They are specific to some of the gifts that God has given me, such as the privilege of having a healthy body and living in a wealthy country.  Not everyone has these things—my friends dealing with cancer, or my friends in India, for example.  On a day like today I can, and should, thank God for my family, one of the greatest blessings in my life.  But there are people I love who are going through painful divorces, or separated from their children for the holidays.  It’s a different kind of day for them.  Are they also supposed to be thankful?  If so, for what?

There are several times in the Bible where God’s people are commanded to give thanks.  This tells me two things: first, that being thankful is a choice, a matter of the will, not simply an emotion.  There may be times when gratitude wells up in our hearts, but even when it doesn’t, we can choose to be aware of God’s gifts and thank Him for them.  Second, it tells me that there are things all believers can be thankful for, regardless of what else may be going on in their lives.  I have blessings that are specific to my life, and so do you, but in Christ there are blessings we can all celebrate, things that are true for all of us, all of the time.  These are the things the writers of the Bible had in mind when they said, “Give thanks!”  So today, before I get busy with anything else, I want to make sure I do that:

God, I thank you for the gift of my life.  Thank you for dreaming me up and making me real, giving me a body, a mind, and a soul.  Thank you for causing me to be born into the world at a particular time and place, with the people and experiences that have shaped me to make me who I am.  Thank you that you are not done with me yet, but are still writing the story of my life.

God, thank you for making me aware of you.  Thank you for the beauty of your creation, which speaks to me of your glory and majesty.  Thank you for the things you have done to show me that you are real, and for the way you are drawing me closer to yourself by your Spirit and by your Word, through your people, and through the circumstances of my life.

Father, thank you for your Son, and for the salvation that comes only through Him. Thank you for sending Jesus into the world and to the cross, and for raising Him from the dead to share His victory over sin and death with me.  Thank you for your amazing plan to redeem sinners like me and reconcile us to yourself.

Jesus, thank you for coming.  Thank you for submitting to the Father’s will, and for paying a price I will never fully understand.  Thank you for being my Savior, my example, my friend, and my elder brother in the Family of God.

Holy Spirit, thank you for your constant presence and guidance.  Thank you for leading me into the truth, and for transforming me from the inside out to be more and more like Jesus.

God, thank you for the gift of eternal life.  Thank you that no matter what trials I may face in this brief life, I am destined to rejoice forever in your presence.  Thank you that one day I will have a perfect body and live in a beautiful place free from sin, pain, and death, where I will serve you and enjoy you for days without end.

God, thank you for your grace.  Thank you for your unconditional love.  Thank you that I do not have to earn your love, but that you give it to me freely through your Son, and you will never take it away.  Thank you for being patient with me, a fragile, sinful, flawed human being.  Thank you that you smile upon me, see the best in me, and genuinely take delight in me.  Thank you that I am your precious adopted child, and that you are always for me, never against me.  Teach me to rest in this amazing truth, and to believe it more deeply all the time.

God, thank you that you are with me today, right now.  Thank you that you are at work in the circumstances of my life, whether they are joyful or painful.  Thank you that you are my constant companion whether I am surrounded by love or feeling lonely.  Thank you for all the blessings of my life, and thank you that when I face hard things, I face them with you.  Thank you that I have all I need.   Help me to believe this, and to be increasingly grateful and at peace as I make this journey through life.  And please use me to make others more aware of your amazing love and kindness.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  May God give you many reasons to give Him thanks today.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.—Psalm 136:1

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