To help stimulate a kind of deeper gratitude, my family has adopted a Thanksgiving tradition we've found extremely helpful. Each year after our Thanksgiving meal we gather in our living room and simply recite the blessings of God that have touched our lives. One by one we circle the room, each one of us expressing our gratitude to God for His many physical and spiritual blessings.
Allow me to share with you just five blessings that deeply touch me every year and prompt me to thank God. Perhaps it'll catch and you'll be able to rekindle your gratitude!
You're Saved and You Know It
No work of God's is more beyond my comprehension yet closer to my heart and more worthy of gratitude than salvation. Before coming to know Christ, each of us lived in a self-imposed prison. Guilty, condemned, spiritually blind and with no means to pay our debt, our destiny was one of eternal separation from God.
But Christ not only rescued us from the power and penalty of our sins, He also lifted us to a place of blessing. He delivered us from punishment and brought glory. He took away the threat of hell and gave us the hope of heaven. He dismissed us from divine wrath and brought us a divine benediction. One hymn writer put that unfathomable transaction like this:
In wonder lost, with trembling joy, We take the pardon of our God; Pardon for crimes of deepest dye, A pardon bought with Jesus' blood, Who is a pard'ning God like Thee? Or who has grace so rich and free?
We sing of salvation. We talk of salvation. Salvation is the essence of Christianity. Thanking God for saving us should be the unceasing occupation of our lips — only a stone-cold heart could offer anything less.
The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth
Watch a half hour of news and tell me if the word chaos doesn't come to mind. The world is gripped by it. Conflict abounds as religious, philosophical, and political systems collide. Moral, social and economic problems proliferate but solutions are scarce. The political process is drifting rudderless on a sea of confusion. Life is all questions and no answers. There is no concrete guideline or standard by which to judge good and bad, right and wrong. The suppression of truth exacts a tremendous price.
But thanks to God, you and I have an eternal, objective, incontestable, irrevocable standard we can depend on for all matters of life. From the truth of Scripture we can understand the ebb and flow of life better than all the educators, philosophers, politicians and social pundits combined. God's Word offers us a window on the real issues people battle. We know how to be good employees, to love our spouses, to raise our families, to truly love our neighbors. Meaning in life is not a question, it's a fact. I thank God for revealing His truth to us and for allowing me the privilege of studying and teaching it.
Perhaps the most difficult time to be thankful is when we're in the midst of a setback, a challenge or a trial. When the storm comes, giving thanks is rarely our first reaction. Being thankful for adversity is never easy, but it is always right. From experience I know the difficult times are the ones in which God seems to be most at work in our lives, strengthening our weak spots, comforting our hurts, and drawing us to greater dependence. Businessman John Marriott offered this perspective: "Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." Let's not neglect to thank God for the strong winds He allows to blow our direction.