Gratitude is not a platitude.
It’s not just a warm fuzzy feeling we make ourselves put on at the end of November every year. It’s not just mugs of hot spiced cider, soft wool socks, or wood crackling in the fireplace, though I like the Danes’ brand of hygge as much as anybody. Gratitude is not just a day on the calendar, a one-time feast of remembrance, a harvest party.
Gratitude is not just an attitude.
It’s not just a happy-go-lucky disposition that closes its ears and sings la-la-la to drown out hard realities. It’s not a general feeling of peace and calm, though gratitude can bring contentment. It’s not non-descript joy, though joy does result from giving thanks.
Gratitude is, in its essence, a relationship.
When we give thanks, we don’t just exude a vibe of gratitude. Thanksgiving is personal and specific. We express gratitude by communicating a feeling about a specific item or experience to a specific person.
Once when I was stuck in a rut, hating my routines and all the things that weren’t working,
I developed a habit of grumbling, complaining,
and speaking ugly words over the problems in my life.
Some of you may think I’m a goody-two-shoes, but you should’ve heard how I told off my laundry.
All along, I kept wondering what God felt about my expletives. I know He’s not some authoritarian waiting to pounce on me for any slip-up, but I did care how He felt about it, and I put that question out in the space between us.
Over the course of the following week, three different quotes landed in my lap without me searching for them.
Each of them talked about what cursing does, not to a person’s standing with God, but to a person’s own mind and body.
When I came across those quotes, I started thinking back on what I’d experienced several months earlier.
When a crisis hit, I had picked up a dusting cloth to burn off some nervous energy.
I dragged the cloth across old photos and souvenirs.
Lines from a familiar Psalm began running through my mind:
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
I recited the words and thought of all the ways God had saved the day for me in the past.
Those stanzas helped me trust that soon God would be writing new stanzas of thanksgiving in my personal history, my own extended version of Psalm 136.
What I really needed in those times of discontentment and worry was not a forced attitude adjustment or a trite phrase to tell me it would all be okay.
What I needed was relationship. I needed to tune in to the God who had saved the day so many times before. I needed to experience the sigh of relief that comes from just being with Him.
Real gratitude goes beyond the physical blessing.
Gratitude receives the Person behind the blessing.
When we give thanks, we end up with both the gift and the Giver. And that kind of gift keeps on giving.
Over and over again, twenty-six times, in Psalm 136 we read the refrain, His love endures forever. And when we tune in to what God has done for us, we keep the refrain going. The One who came through then is coming through for us now. That’s why I call Psalm 136, “The Psalm that never ends.”
Gratitude connects us with the Giver of all good things. And He helps us to bless the mess in front of us.
Before we dive headfirst into the tasks of the Christmas season, let’s steady ourselves in a time of rehearsing God’s goodness.
Let’s give Thanksgiving more than its 15 minutes of fame this year.
Start with gratitude.
You’ll find contentment in a season of materialism.
You’ll build courage for whatever conflict or crisis you may be facing.
To help you, I’ve put together the Personal Psalm Thanksgiving Experience. Through thoughtful worksheets, printables, and a devotional video/audio with interactive prompts, I’ll walk you through step-by-step to help you reflect on your personal history with God and write your own Personal Psalm of gratitude. Try the worksheet on your own, then take copies to Thanksgiving dinner to help your family experience the fullness of gratitude!
This bundle is FREE to my subscribers. Join my list and you’ll get what you need to make this Thanksgiving holiday more than just a day on the calendar.
Tune in with God through gratitude, and stay sane this season.