By Aaron D'Anthony Brown, Crosswalk.com
How to Show Your Thanksgiving This Thanksgiving
By Aaron D’Anthony Brown
“Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
The Reason for Gratitude
Thanksgiving is the reason many of us are grateful for the month of November. Yet, while we may be preoccupied with stuffing our faces or talking to our kids about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, we should strive to turn the feastful day into something representative of its name - a day where we express thanksgiving.
Gratitude is the cornerstone to experiencing a happy and fulfilling life. No empirical study is needed to reach this conclusion, though we can find plenty. No wise teacher needs to instruct us, though many certainly have. All we have to do is look inward - our happiest moments occur when we feel most grateful.
The birth of a baby, a new friendship, a promotion at work. Gratitude and happiness go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly, or turkey with gravy. And the shorter the gratitude, the more fleeting the happiness, while more sustained gratitude leads to longer happiness.
Without an appreciation for the things we have, we’re left in a state of dissatisfaction. No matter what comes our way, nothing is enough. Have you ever met someone who complains about everything and everyone? Such a person seemingly has not one grateful bone in their body, and their words, actions, and lives reveal that. Thus, they’re left unhappy and unfulfilled.
As Christians, we strive to live differently; in fact, we’re called to practice very intentional gratitude. Scripture helps us understand that gratitude achieves these three things.
Gratitude is the way we showcase our appreciation of God, of others, and the things we possess. We express gratitude through both our words and actions, indicating for others just how much value they bring to our lives. In effect, we treat God, people, and things, with a tender care that we otherwise would not.
According to Scripture, every single one of us is bound to encounter some form of tribulation in our lives (John 16:33). Moreover, many of us will at one point or another struggle with gratitude because of our suffering. However, maintaining gratitude aids us with remembering God and His blessings during those down seasons.
With gratitude we more easily maintain the perspective that God is good and that however we suffer, there is purpose in the pain, and at some point, the bad will come to an end.
Gratitude through prayer is one way to worship God, but certainly not the only. In fact, worshiping God whether at home, church, through song or dance, are all ways to bring Him honor. Scripture calls on us to express gratitude not because God needs our admiration, but in doing so we bring Him glory, bring others to Christ, and keep focused on what’s most important - God.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
This Thanksgiving holiday, find some practical ways to showcase your gratitude to family, friends, and more with these ideas:
Thank You Cards
Place them in someone’s mailbox, in their hands, or even more fun, hide them somewhere for the recipient to find!
Prayers of Gratitude
Thank God for His blessings, trials, mercy, etc. and once you finish, or before, thank God for how He’s been active in someone’s life too.
Sing and dance along to the tunes of worship music as you lift praise to the Lord.
For some people, actions speak louder than words. Consider buying someone a gift, fixing them a meal, or performing some other act of service. If you don’t know what to do for them, ask.
Words can be a great way to show appreciation. Besides giving a simple “thank you,” explain to someone just how much you’re grateful, why, and what you hope for the future of your relationship.
Keep a Journal
God blesses us daily in more ways than we will ever know, understand, or appreciate. Though, where we can express gratitude, we should, and one way to do that is through a gratitude journal. Keep track of how God is working in your life, especially during those moments when life gets tough.
Gratitude is not always easy to maintain but having even just an ounce can make a world of difference in our lives.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tonktiti
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”