Thanksgiving. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear that word? Is it a day, a family meal, or perhaps a specific menu of foods? Is it an attitude that comes and goes based on how you feel? Or is it a way of life which flows from you regardless of your circumstances? These devotions I will be sharing this month were originally written throughout November 2019 and then edited/updated during the summer of 2020 for a 31 day devotional journal, “The Heart of Thanksgiving: Living a Life of Thankfulness”. I will be re-sharing them here this month to encourage each of us to pursue a greater spirit of thankfulness in all we do.
Here is day two with an important reminder that living with a heart of thanksgiving should cause us to be thankful for God.
Thankful for God
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! “
2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)
I think I would be rather amiss if I wrote a series on giving thanks without an umbrella focus of being thankful for God. The gifting I receive from God is so multi-faceted that it would be impossible to list all of it without missing something. Yet most of the list would be things I could describe once I recognized I had received it. The one gift that I’ll never be able to fully describe (at least not until I see Him face to face, and then there would be no point in describing it) is the gift God has given of Himself. There is so much wrapped up in this indescribable gift that I’m sure elements of it will be present in most of this series of devotions on giving thanks. And while there is an element of God giving and me receiving because God has given Himself, I will still use this as a reminder to simply be thankful for God’s presence even more than His presents.
For me, God is at the very center of my ability to be thankful. Yes, I know people who don’t believe in God yet live with varying degrees of thankfulness. But even without their recognition of it, He is generally the source of that for which they are thankful. Being thankful for God, and the gift of Himself through Jesus, helps me to acknowledge His goodness as the provider of every “good and perfect gift”. Beginning each day with a genuine thankfulness to God for Jesus helps me to have a thankful attitude when the day doesn’t go as I would wish or plan. When I am truly thankful for God’s grace extended to me each day, I find it is much easier to remain thankful when I need to extend that same grace to others.
When you strip away the natural tendency to focus on the many presents that come from God and spend time simply considering His presence, it shouldn’t take long to realize a spirit of thankfulness welling up inside you. While the efforts to describe this most precious of gifts will always fall short, the gratitude Jesus puts within you should be constantly growing as you put into practice a spirit of thanksgiving. It is like the healthy relationships we ought to have with our closest friends — while we definitely value the things the do for us, the depth and closeness of the relationship is measured by the value we place on just being together. Even if the actions and tangible gifts brought us together, the greatest friendships are those which continue to grow just because we desire the presence of one another. When we learn to be thankful at that level, we have made great progress in being thankful for God.
As you spend this month thinking, and praying, about being more thankful, I pray that you and I would always begin by being thankful for God’s indescribable gift!