If there was one thing we'll all do this week (besides open presents, eat lots of food and spend time with family), it will be to…
I love November. The neighborhood cobwebs, tombstones, ghosts, and skeletons get taken down, and we get to focus on something a little more positive. Actually, a lot more positive. Who doesn’t prefer a season emphasizing thankfulness over and above a month celebrating death and darkness?! The streets may not be as decorated, but hopefully, we will notice our minds becoming more garnished with gratitude.
We typically hope the “Thanksgiving spirit” characterizes our entire year; but unfortunately, there is a myriad of reasons this doesn’t always happen. Thus, we praise the Lord for November! This is a great time to hit “reset” so that we can move into the next year with a renewed resolve to be grateful people.
A Fresh Start
We know there are so many things to be grateful for. The question is, how do we turn that knowledge into genuine gratitude to the Lord? And perhaps more importantly, how do we develop a sustained attitude of gratitude?
One specific strategy for cultivating a consistently thankful outlook is taking the time to itemize our blessings. Meaning, we should list out, or catalog, the many many good things in our life. When we stop to take note of the blessings that abound in our homes, within our relationships, at our church, in our community, and all around our lives – it is hard to walk back into those arenas of life without a more automatic sense of appreciation.
Take your home for example. What daily enjoyments surround you? What people and pleasures make your heart smile? What conveniences are at your disposal? Broaden your list of blessings by considering details that often escape your attention. Consider things like the decorations you enjoy, good tasting food, nice furniture, soft carpet for your feet, comfortable blankets, beautiful colors that please your eye. Or think of the modern conveniences that make your job so much easier, like washing machines, dishwashers or even running tap water. Not to mention, the best blessings that come in the form of people and relationships. The list goes on and on – we have a lot!
Answering Your (Potential) Objection
Oddly enough we can feel a bit ungodly listing out all we have and enjoy, especially in relation to our “stuff.” But what we fail to realize is any good thing we enjoy is from God himself.
1 Timothy 6:17 says,
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
First, we must heed the warning not to be proud or precariously misplace our hope; but note what the verse says about God. This passage makes very clear that God is the one who provides us “with everything to enjoy.” God is the author of enjoyment and pleasure, and furthermore, he is the giver of all good things!
Therefore, when you look at your coffee maker and say, “Thank you God for this wonderful machine, you are very kind to me” — your gratitude is directed exactly as it should be.
When you sit in your living room and see some of your favorite knick-knacks, or notice that the wall color is actually quite nice, or when you spend time in a good book — God is the one worthy of credit.
It is not ungodly to thank God for the little things. Those “little things” are a gift from someone, and that someone is worthy of praise!
Why Does This Mindset Warrant a “Resolve?”
Our lives are marked by God’s kindness in big ways, as well as small. If we worked to identify these specific blessings, we will never be the same.
It is hard to sip on coffee with a callous heart if you were thanking God for this lovely gift the week prior. It is hard to sit in a room and complain when you recently listed out 22 things you love about that room.
Our blessing itemization not only gives us reasons to say thank you in that moment, but it also bookmarks items all over the place that remind us to be thankful. These “little things” are big reminders that we have a good God who has been very kind, in all types of ways.
As we work all throughout the month of November to identify the small things we enjoy, it is my hope that we will be set up for more success all year long. Eventually, we may forget each and every “small thing” that we appreciate; But November will come back again, and we can once again hit “reset” and work to become more consistently grateful people.
Let’s work to notice the hundreds of mini blessings all around us….and let’s see if we can maximize this momentum to bring us into the new year, and even into next November with an attitude of gratitude!