The Thanksgiving holiday has always reminded me of this: thankfulness is hard. Those words sting to say, and I bet it’s offensive to hear. But for me, I confess it has been the truth. Thankfully, God can work with truth.
With that, I journey into thankfulness.
Off to a Bad Start
When I say thankfulness is hard, I mean I’ve been long trapped by the web of “what if” lies. What if my thankfulness is rejected? What if I never receive thankfulness in return? What if I don’t really deserve the gift I was given that warrants a response of thanks?
Even from a young age, expressing positive words, including words of thanks, was unnatural for me. I had the negative down pat, but positive ones were elusive, disappearing into deep places.
I do remember times of gratefulness. And I probably managed to squeak out some tiny, apprehensive words of thanks. But it was hard for me.
It was just so hard.
My husband is a wonderful surprise-gift giver. One year for Christmas, I had dropped hints of a particular purse I wanted. I had my heart set on it, and I made sure he was aware. So on Christmas morning, I wondered what surprise he got to go along with that purse (yes, I was that confident).
But when all the gifts had been opened and there was no purse, I thought he was teasing me by saving the purse for the “surprise” gift.
In short, following a scavenger hunt that gave him time to position the surprise, I struggled to find the gift. As I scanned the room, my eyes were trained only to locate a box or bag sized to contain that purse. But I didn’t see it. I looked all around and I couldn’t find the purse – I mean the surprise gift.
I want you to know that in all that searching, I walked past the real gift several times. Do you know what it was?
A mountain bike.
In case you missed that, it was a mountain bike! Yes, because of my set-in-stone expectation, I did not see a fully assembled, unwrapped mountain bike standing smack dab in the middle of the room.
Real Consequences to Unthankfulness
What an excellent gift! Yet in the midst of my disappointment, I was a miser with gratefulness and stockpiled all the best thank words. They remained settled in the muck of a wasted opportunity to share honest gratitude with my husband.
There’s realness in “use it or lose it”, and my thankfulness muscles had atrophied along the way. How many times have I withheld marriage-enriching thank you’s? What about all of the times I shrunk away from the mama-daughter moments of thankfulness lessons? When would I be the thanks giver my dear friends deserved?
Not Knowing How to Thank is Not Hopeless
I’m inclined to be ashamed of my thanklessness and avoid speaking of it. But God’s Word shows me His path of hope for all of us who may struggle with giving thanks:
- Our unchanging Father of Lights gifts us with all we need and more (James 1:17).
- God even gifted us with the faith we need to believe Him for our salvation (Ephesians 2:8)
- The loving goodness of our Father is how thankfulness abides in our hearts (Psalm 107:1).
- To be thankful, even in embarrassing, angry or shameful circumstances, is to be in His will (1Thessalonians 5:18).
With these truths, we can see clearly how we can be thankful:
When we believe God is our constant every-gift giver, thanksgiving is our perpetual response.
A Thank-filled Future
Our Father can restore whatever is holding us back from giving and showing thanks, whether it’s dashed expectations, wrong beliefs, a painful past or worldly diversions. By taking His Word to heart and seeing His new work in our lives, we can believe in His goodness toward us and exercise our gratitude for providing us with a Bridge into eternity.
By choice, Thanksgiving no longer reminds me of my past failures in not giving thanks, but of the belief-gift my Father gave which overflows my heart with an abundance of gratefulness to give, say and do thankful.
When we choose to give thanks in everything, we allow God to reveal His restoration of our hope, faith, and trust in Him.
How will believing God is your constant every-gift giver change the way you give thanks this Thanksgiving and beyond?