The season of Thanksgiving on the calendar doesn’t always coincide with a season of thanksgiving in our lives. If you’re struggling to embrace the true purpose of the holiday—or having difficulty finding things to be thankful for because of the circumstances you’re facing—here are a few ideas to help you.
Adoration and thanksgiving are two of the recurring themes in the book of Psalms. Hundreds of verses throughout the book offer words of gratitude to God for everything from His creation (8:3-4) to His mercy (136:1). The spirit of thankfulness found in Psalms can be contagious, if we allow it to be.
The psalms of David are a great place to start. David enjoyed a relationship with God that was unlike any other. God Himself referred to David as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22). That unique relationship is on full display in Psalms 9, 34, 145 and others. The heartfelt gratitude David expresses to the Lord can serve as a template for anyone who wants to give thanks in new and creative ways.
Sometimes other people have a better perspective on our blessings than we do. Good things that we take for granted or unintentionally overlook may stand out to sharp-eyed observers. So why not invite people you trust—people who have a vested interest in your spiritual growth—to examine your life and share what they see?
In passages such as Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:15-17, the apostle Paul encourages his readers to give thanks for God’s work in their lives. Likewise, our own spiritual mentors can shine a light on things in our life to be thankful for.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers; sold into slavery; imprisoned for something he didn’t do; and forced to spend most of his life in Egypt, a foreign land, apart from his family. Yet he found plenty to be thankful for. He was able to see past his own suffering to get a sense of God’s bigger picture.
When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to plead for food in the midst of a famine, they were stunned to find not only that their brother was still alive, but that he also held their fate in his hands. They begged for his forgiveness and mercy.
And in Joseph’s response to his brothers, we find a profound truth that has special resonance in this season of thanksgiving. “You meant evil against me,” Joseph pointed out, “but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (see Genesis 50:20). Joseph saw God’s hand at work in the setbacks of his life. He recognized the extraordinary good that God brought from them.
If we can find that same perspective in our lives, we’ll discover a never-ending stream of things to be thankful for.
In this season of giving thanks, here are a few Scriptures you can use to prepare your heart, share your gratefulness with others, and meditate on while the busyness of the holiday swirls around you.
“Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all.
Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.
“Now therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise Your glorious name.”
I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving
And the voice of those who make merry;
I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish;
I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
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