Devotionals, Jesus in Everyday Life, Reflect

Thankfulness: What Does Thankfulness Look Like?

Ps 1181

I appreciate it when people say “Thank You,” don’t you? When they take a moment to show they understand the time and attention you put into something for them, whether it’s a gift, making dinner, doing laundry, shopping, listening, teaching them something, offering counsel, etc. it feels good to be appreciated and valued, doesn’t it?

We’re continuously told to have an Attitude of Gratitude, and no other time does that concept get the center stage than in November.


How many times this month are you expecting people to ask you, “What are you thankful for?” A dozen? Two dozen? Do you have your answer prepared or do you just wing-it? Do you give your answer a lot of thought or do you say the first thing that comes to your mind?

I ask because in this Age of Entitlement we often forget to say thank you with a sincere heart. We tend to ignore the effort others make on our behalf as something we deserve. Or we’re inclined to see it as their job or responsibility; therefore, not necessarily requiring our thanks.

We may articulate our “Thank Yous” with warmth, but often they don’t come from deep within. From that place of sincere thankfulness. They’re said to avoid being rude and disrespectful; to escape appearing as ungrateful.

However, I find it fascinating that “What are you thankful for?” is such a frequent conversation starter in November, but it’s not uttered much during the rest of the year.

And I find it disturbing that most people don’t pause long enough to reflect on what they’re genuinely thankful for beyond the fourth Thursday of November.

Beloved, in anticipation of this series, I asked my social media followers “What are you thankful for?” in early October. The answers I received were: family, marriage, friends, health, job, and faith.

These are things we SHOULD be thankful for; because every good and perfect gift is from our unchanging Heavenly Father (James 1:17). But, now I want you to imagine what your life would look like if you didn’t have these things in it–if they were all suddenly gone.

I’ll give you a moment to ponder that one.

 

Scary isn’t it? Bleak? Uncertain? Unnerving? Heart-wrenching?

When I thought about my life without my family, I could feel my heart squeeze in utter pain, and when I imagined my life without my faith, I found myself on the floor in uncontrollable tears. I didn’t even get to ponder the rest. That was enough for me.

But then I began to wonder:

  • What does thankfulness look like?
  • What does it mean to be thankful for something?
  • How do you know if someone is sincere about their thankfulness for something you’ve done for them.
  • How do others know you’re sincere about your thankfulness?
  • How do we show our thankfulness to God?

So I did what I always do when I’m looking for an answer: I turned to the Bible.

Did you realize there are hundreds of verses about thankfulness, being thankful, and giving thanks from Genesis to Revelations? Who knew? With so many, I had a hard time picking out my favorites.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT

“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20, NLT

 “Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!His faithful love endures forever.” Psalms 106:1, NLT

 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalms 100:4, NLT

 “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2, NLT

“The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalms 28:7, NLT

 Interestingly, among all these uplifting and encouraging verses, I couldn’t find any that painted a picture of what thankfulness looks like, internally. But I did learn what people did to express their thankfulness externally in the way they worshiped and in the way they lived.

I also discovered pride and thankfulness can’t share the same space–genuine thankfulness goes hand-in-hand with humility.

So this month I want to explore Scripture to discover what thankfulness is and how to show genuine thankfulness for:

  • Marriage (or relationship with your significant other)
  • Children (or nieces and nephews, regardless of genetics)
  • Parents
  • Extended Family
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Job/Career
  • Faith

Dear One, as we enter this Thanksgiving season, and later the Christmas season, I’m challenging myself to cultivate a thankful heart that lasts all year long.

Will you join me?

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