Here’s a question...what do the 4th of July and Thanksgiving have in common? The most obvious answer is these two celebrations are uniquely American in that their very founding was undeniably linked to the founding of the United States. The less obvious answer is that these two holidays were also founded in humble recognition of God Almighty. Just read the first and last parts of the Declaration of Independence and the first declarations for Thanksgiving and you will see that God was first and foremost. Here we are about 240 years later and God is no longer first and he certainly is no longer "for most." So, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday what can we do to relight our own fire of gratitude towards God and towards one another? Let’s start by talking about it!
Think about back when you were a kid. If you were fortunate to have parents (as I did) who believed in manners and gratitude you probably recall the humbling lessons of constantly being reminded to say thank you. Remember? Someone would do something for you and your mom or dad would say, “What do you say?” and you would dutifully (and sometimes with a twinge of embarrassment) say thank you. Gratitude really is a simple lesson but is often a hard to implement response.
As with anything that is hard to do, it is always a good idea to know why you should do it. If you just take a small peek at the science of gratitude, what you will find is that people who make gratitude an intentional part of their lives are happier, they are healthier, they have better relationships and they even tend to live longer. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for getting me started on the road to gratitude!
Okay, so we now know why we should have gratitude. Knowing why is a great motivator and brings us to the next logical question – how. How do we not just have gratitude, but how can we learn to live a gratitude-based life? We can start by looking at some practical examples of gratitude in action. We can find these examples in the world around us (granted that is probably not as easy as it once was) and we can find these examples written for us in the Bible. The difference between these two sources may not be obvious until stated. Current day gratitude stories are primarily focused on being thankful to and for each other, whereas biblical gratitude lessons are primarily focused on being thankful to God.
Both types of gratitude focus are necessary, and both sadly are in critically short supply today. Consider this; our deepest gratitude would naturally be towards those whom we most trust. If we don’t display an attitude of gratitude to even these individuals then we have actually crossed over into living an attitude of entitlement. This is not merely worrisome, it is tragic!
Please look into our November 21, 2016 podcast, “Is Gratitude Your Attitude?” and follow the many examples of gratitude we talk about, gather up our many observations regarding how to make gratitude work every day and open the door to a fuller, happier and more contented life. There is so much to be thankful for!