Thanksgiving has once again arrived. It is a day that we set aside to focus on what we are thankful for in our lives. This has been a national holiday here in the US since President Licoln made it one in 1863. In recent years, it seems that we have drifted away from gratitude as the focus of the holiday. Our culture seems to go from Halloween to Black Friday to Christmas with no break in between. It seems we see no need for taking a moment in our lives to reflect on the blessings in our lives. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. I enjoy looking at the Black Friday flyers and seeing if there is anything I “need” that I can get cheaply. My question for us today is this. Is this lack of gratitude Biblical? And if it isn’t, what can we do to change it?

As I am sure you have already assumed, gratitude is something that we are called to do in Scripture. Paul tells us to rejoice always in 1 Thessalonians and again in Ephesians 5. The Psalms tell us over and over again to give thanks to God. Psalm 107 begins by saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” A quick Google search will turn up passage after passage exhorting us to be thankful for the blessings God has given us. Biblical gratitude is a well established reality. So if we are not expressing gratitude regularly, what can we do to change that?

I am going to make three suggestions as we approach Thanksgiving that will hopefully be helpful in integrating gratitude into our daily lives. First, is to begin to keep a gratitude journal. This is a practice in which you take a few minutes at the end of each day to write down 3 or 4 things for which you are grateful from that day. Think back over your day and actively try to find the ways God has blessed you. Then write them down. It’s that simple. There is a large and ever growing body of research that shows that this practice is extremely effective.
Second, is to create a gratitude jar. The gratitude journal is an individual exercise. The gratitude jar is a family exercise. Find yourselves a container of some kind and sit down as a family and decorate it. Make it look joyful and exciting! Once you’ve done that, put it in a prominent place in your home with some pens or pencils and slips of paper. Then encourage each member of your family to write down something they are grateful for and drop it in the jar. When the jar is full, sit down and read through everything your family is grateful for! You can make it fun by having hot chocolate and some snacks. This is a great way to spend some time as a family focused on being thankful.

Third, is a practice that could be added to Thanksgiving Day. Read through Psalm 136 together before you eat dinner. Psalm 136 is a beautiful psalm of thankfulness and praise to God for how he has blessed his people. You could read it out loud or you could read it responsively with one person reading the first part of the verse and everyone reading the refrain of “His love endures forever.” Reading through a passage of Scripture that focuses on God’s enduring love would be an awesome way to kick off Thanksgiving as a family.

In closing, I want to encourage you to incorporate gratitude into your day-to-day life in whatever way works best for you. Ultimately, we are called to be thankful to God and being thankful is good for us. Finding a way to do that regularly is vital.

PS - Some of the suggestions were taken from the Axis Parent Guide on Thanksgiving. If you haven’t signed up for Axis Premium, click HERE to do so. It’s free for those who are a part of our church family here at Beacon.

Josh Cervone