Devotional

Happy Thanksgiving! Reflections on Gratitude

by Kathryn Hughes and special guest Marcy James

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Thanksgiving Day is the one day of the year that we deliberately try to express our thankfulness to others and to God who provides all things and shows His great love towards us. How wonderful it would be if we all were thankful to God and to others all of the time.

Thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks. It is grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God. It shows an attitude of gratitude. Thanksgiving is also part of Christian maturity.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  (Colossians 2:6, 7 NIV)

My friend Marcy James overflows with thankfulness. She is one of the most grateful people I’ve ever met. She expresses her gratitude for even the smallest thing one does for her or says to her. She shares her thankfulness to God as well as to others. I asked her to write her thoughts on gratitude:

“Right now there’s someone happy who has much less than you.”  Those words were on a poster at my daughter’s first school.  It’s a simple statement about gratitude that gave me pause and had me thinking about what “much less” is.  I’ve seen “much less” in China when a man with no legs used as his wheel chair one of those boards with casters mechanics use to slide under cars.  He propelled himself with his hands against the frigid winter road.  It’s not hard to see those with “much more” who somehow have it hard, but in a different way.  That might beg the question, “What is the source of happiness?”  But maybe the bigger question is, “Why are ‘much less’ and ‘much more’ not really a factor?”  I think the unmentioned factor is Christianity.  The love of God, the promise of salvation in Christ, the very loyal support of the Body of Christ all put this world in perspective.  The Word of God sharpens our focus on how to navigate our own trials and tribulations and still have the Fruits of the Spirit, which include joy and peace.  Vacation Bible School often speaks of God sightings, and the most moving God sightings to me have been kindness and compassion in others towards others.  The youngest of children can point them out.  Anytime someone of any age does something helpful, says something helpful, it’s a God sighting sent to you and the only possible response is thankfulness to that person and to God above and to pass that blessing on. 

I want to become more like my friend Marcy. I confess that I too often take things for granted. Unwritten thank you notes sit near my desk, as I substitute a quick verbal thank you for a gift or for an act of kindness from others. I thank God regularly for my food, but how often do I thank Him for the air I breathe, or for the sunrise I saw on my way to work? I’m learning to be more grateful.

Giving thanks to God is shown and taught throughout Scripture. Psalm 100 shows that thankfulness is more than words. Note the attitude and actions in the Psalm. (Underlines are mine.) May we be thankful and show our gratitude first to God, and then to others.

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!

Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.

Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

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.

Anytime someone of any age does something helpful, says something helpful, it’s a God sighting sent to you and the only possible response is thankfulness to that person and to God above and to pass that blessing on. ” ~ Marcy James

Dear Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for being You. Thank you for Your faithfulness, for being my provider, and for Your unconditional love which You showed through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue me from the punishment for my sins. Thank you for Your care for me. In Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Thanksgiving Fall photo by Hudsoncrafted on Pixabay

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