Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite days of the year. I’d say it’s in my top five—maybe even my top three. There is something so nourishing to the soul about sharing a warm, comforting meal with the ones you love most and reflecting on the things you’re grateful for. However, cultivating an attitude of gratitude doesn’t have to be relegated to one day of the year; it’s something we should strive for on a daily basis. Yes, even in 2020. Especially in 2020.
There are many reasons to be grateful, but the foremost is this: the Bible commands it. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Psalm 136:1 exhorts believers to “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” If you’re like me, at this point, you’re thinking, “Oh yeah, always be grateful, I know that, let’s move on.” But I challenge you to stop and ponder for a moment–ask yourself, am I grateful when things don’t go my way? When COVID changes my plans? When my preferred candidate doesn’t win? No matter what happens, God’s Word is clear. We must continually maintain a spirit of thankfulness.
But can you be thankful even when you’re unhappy? Yes, you can. First, remember this: nothing can take away your relationship with the Lord and the eternal joy you receive through Him. He is constant. He is omnipresent. And He loves you more than you can even imagine. In fact, He loves you so much, that He uses even negative circumstances for your greater good. (Rom. 8:28) Now that’s something to be thankful for.
Next, as silly as it may sound, realize that things can always be worse. Whenever you feel tempted to gripe and complain about your circumstances, think about the many ways things could be worse than they are currently. It may seem elementary, but I’ve found that this way of thinking helps me maintain an attitude that’s more positive and more grateful.
Yet another way to practice gratitude is to be grateful for the “small” things. Learn to rejoice in daily delights such as a warm cup of coffee, sunlight streaming through the window, a walk in the fresh air, or a chance to talk with a good friend. On an even more practical note, don’t take for granted the ability to simply turn on your lights, run the tap, or stock up on food at the grocery store. Think of the many who came before you who never enjoyed these privileges.
Finally, say “thank you” more. Realize that you are owed nothing by anyone. Let people know that you are grateful for them, even if its someone you don’t like. It’s difficult to harbor hard feelings toward someone when you’re telling them “thank you.” Try it and see what happens. It will not only be beneficial for you, but it will encourage those around you.
In the end, gratitude is somewhat of a paradox. The darker circumstances get, the more we need thankfulness. A grateful heart leads to more love, patience, joy, and kindness. Not only does it glorify God, it just makes life better. And in a year such as 2020, a grateful heart will surely shine as a gentle light illuminating the darkness.