It’s that wonderful time of year again—Thanksgiving. This is an exciting day of family togetherness, celebration, and delicious food. I can’t wait to catch up with my relatives and eat my mom’s delicious apple pie. I can almost hear the loud chatter of conversing family members and taste the sweet, gooey pie.
However, one difficult aspect about Thanksgiving is that it can often seem abstract. What does gratitude look like in our everyday lives? How can we show that we are thankful for God’s gifts?
Besides doing the cliché tradition of mentioning what we’re thankful for, we really don’t practice gratitude on this holiday. We simply check the box that says, “Be thankful” and then direct our attention to the football, feasting, and family time.
This Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to do more than just mutter a sentence of thanks. There are other ways we can show gratefulness besides noting what we’re thankful for.
Here are five practical things you can do this Thanksgiving to show your gratitude:
- Spend time with the Lord and thank Him for the ways He has blessed you. This isn’t an original idea, but it’s practical and beneficial. Everything we have ultimately comes from God, and He deserves the praise for every good thing He has given us. Set aside some time to simply thank Him for His blessings—whether that means writing them down, praying aloud, singing, or another activity. Consider reading a few Psalms to put your mind in a state of gratitude.
- Have an attitude of gratefulness. It can be easy to become grouchy and irritated when being with a lot of people for a long time (or when being around difficult family members). Try to have a cheerful attitude and be a good example of Christ’s kindness and servanthood.
- Lend a helping hand. Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or going to a family member’s home to celebrate, I know there is something you can do to be helpful. Since we host Thanksgiving in our home, it’s always nice to have family members wash dishes, put away clean dishes, empty the dishwasher…(Are you noticing a theme?) Other jobs include helping prepare food, setting the table, vacuuming before guests arrive, or occupying younger relatives while their parents are busy. Ask the host what needs to be done (and don’t forget to thank her for hosting!).
- Remember those who are struggling during this holiday. Some people are too ill or depressed to celebrate Thanksgiving or don’t have anyone to celebrate with. Pray for those who are struggling during this time and think about donating your time or resources to a Christian organization that can help them. Perhaps there’s a local organization or charity that will share the gospel with the needy and provide food or shelter for them.
- Thank specific people in your life for what they’ve done for you. For example, thank your mom for faithfully driving you to your soccer games. Thank your dad for helping you with your math homework. Thank your grandma for praying for you. Thank your co-worker for helping you finish a project. Thank your pastor for taking care of the church. Thank your best friend for sending you a text of encouragement.
And, if you’re struggling to be grateful this Thanksgiving…
Friend, you’re not alone in your suffering. Whether we appear to be struggling or not, we all are. I just want to remind you of three things that every Christian can cling to: God is in control. You belong to Him. He is with you always.
This Thanksgiving may not be easy for you, but you can trust that God is holding onto you.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. (Psalm 28:7 NASB)
Christ’s immeasurable love and His sacrifice on the cross for our sins are just a couple of the reasons we can be thankful.