I’d like to think that thankfulness comes easy for me. Honestly, it’s a fight, a struggle. It hardly ever takes possession of me. I don’t wake up with it. I have to choose it.
Thankfulness is not an individual gift that God hands out to a few. True, it may be easier for some. Thankfulness is an experience we all can enjoy if we so choose.
Thankfulness is like a muscle. For most of us it is underdeveloped and weak. When stresses come it gives way. With a little bit of time, prayer, practice, and persistence our capacity to be thankful will grow. A little bit of growth in our ability to give thanks can change our entire life.
How can you choose to be thankful? One way is to give new meaning to the difficult, painful, aggravating things in our lives. We have the creative ability to do that. We can reframe painful things in a more positive light.
Here are two examples. The other morning my dog began barking at 5 AM. I heard myself mumbling, “Dumb dog. I wish we had never purchased that mut!” I caught myself, and chose to give the moment a different meaning. I thought, “This dog gets on my nerves at times, but my one year old son loves to play with him. What a great experience for my boy to grow up with a dog as a best friend.” My frustration disappeared.
Maybe this Thanksgiving will bring you into the same room with a father that was never there for you. He was there but not really involved. Inside it’s painful. You sense a void. You find yourself saying, “If only my dad had been there! When he’s around I always leave feeling down! He makes me so angry. He still doesn’t care.” You could choose to look at it differently and say, “My father isn’t perfect, and neither am I. I didn’t have a perfect childhood, but at least my father gave me the opportunity to live, work, have a family, a future, a chance to know Jesus, and to have a home in heaven.”
No one takes away your thankfulness. You give it away. The choice is yours. You can be bitter and angry, living in the past. Or, you can choose to be thankful.
In the Bible it is called the “sacrifice of praise.” You feel like being negative, miserable, and grouchy, but you choose instead to make a sacrifice. You sacrifice what you want, and you bring an offering of praise. In the end you find yourself in a much better place, strengthened, encouraged, and filled with faith.
Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”