It seems that some people are rarely thankful. Why is that?
Perhaps they think they deserve the good things that happen to them. They may feel they have earned everything on their own, so there’s no need to be thankful to anyone else.
Or, maybe they are just not very happy people, and they have made the choice to focus on the negative aspects of life more than the positive ones.
Other people may be thankful sometimes, but only when everything is going well. There’s nothing wrong with being happy when good things happen. As long as our thankfulness doesn’t stop there.
Because we should also learn to be thankful when things go wrong.
Where Does Thanksgiving Come From?
But, is that realistic? To feel thankful when times are bad? To praise God when we are in pain?
Perhaps not on our own. But if we lean on God’s understanding, and learn from experience, we can begin to appreciate what that means.
Because there is more to feel thankful for after going through tough times. Trials are when we develop perspective of what life is all about. And when our faith may be stretched, and grow, the most. During tough times, we develop a depth of appreciation we would not achieve otherwise.
For example, I am thankful now for security, simply knowing where the money to pay the bills will come from, because of financial struggles we have faced in the past.
I am thankful for the contentment of a day when I engage in things that matter rather than lapse into a recreational escape with alcohol or television. Because I used to often seek that escape.
I am deeply thankful for the love and purpose that faith brings. I didn’t always know God personally, and I remember that emptiness, so I greatly appreciate the hope God offers to us.
“When things get worse in this world of ours, it is no evidence that God is absent or indifferent. Quite the contrary. All these signs are evidence that God is very near, that every part of His plan and purpose is being fulfilled, just as His Word has promised us.”
I believe thankfulness is sometimes given to us, by God, to help us understand what life is really about. Because I am also deeply appreciative for some things I have not had to experience. Such as being homeless, or personally facing serious disease, or not having family that loves me. There but for the grace of God go I. Therefore, even though I have not had to do without any of those things, I am very thankful for each one of them.
Where does thanksgiving come from? Much of the time, we discover it through hard-earned experience. But, sometimes, it comes as a gift, if we are open to receive it.
The Origin of Thanksgiving
Trials bring us a deeper perspective that makes giving thanks more heartfelt.
The winter before the first Thanksgiving in 1621, the colonists suffered greatly from exposure and disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In November, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, they saw the need to organize a celebratory feast, which is now remembered as America’s “first Thanksgiving.”
The Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest.
In 1789, George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation in gratitude for the end to the country’s deadly war of independence.
“Circumstances that rip out the walls of our own self-sufficiency are God’s blessings in disguise. We can truly thank God for them and praise Him for every blow that removes more of the illusion that we have the ability to handle our own situation.”
A Deeper Appreciation
Maybe the light of morning is brighter after we have struggled through the darkness of night. Perhaps being satisfied is only truly appreciated after one has been hungry. And feeling good is most meaningful when we have also endured pain.
“Praise is acceptance of what God has brought into our lives. We practice this attitude of praise by an act of our will, by a decision to praise God regardless of how we feel.” (all quotes from Power in Praise by Merlin R. Carothers)
If we were designing things, we would make it easier than that. But that’s not our call. It’s our job to find thanksgiving wherever it can be found. Including in the tough times.
Question: This year, what are some of the things you are most thankful for?
Action: Think of tough times you have been through and how they made you thankful.