I used to assume that gratitude came bubbling to the surface when I was overwhelmed with wonderful things. However, since that hasn’t happened since I was five years old at Christmas, I’ve come to understand that giving thanks requires discipline on my part. I have to set aside my gloomy, grumpy thoughts, and deliberately list my blessings, and then maybe I’ll feel the gratitude.
Thanksgiving is also an expression of faith. The Bible instructs us to give thanks even while we express our concerns because we know that God will bring us through our struggles.
The hardest thing for me is giving thanks specifically FOR my hardships. I understand saying thank you for my blessings. I even understand expressing hope that I’ll be delivered from my struggles. But being thankful for illness, unemployment, the loss of a child, or a divorce? How do I say thank you to God for those things?
It helps when I look back on past issues with grief and sadness. I can see how the hardest, most humiliating moments actually defined me and made me a better man. But saying thank you while I’m crying is not something I’ve been able to do, so I guess that’s my growing edge.
Thanksgiving Day will be much easier. I’ll sit at a table full of good food and look around at my beautiful wife and handsome sons and maybe it will feel like Christmas when I was five and was so delighted with all I had gotten.
I wish the same for you this holiday.