Recently, I heard a preacher teach how most of us face unwanted circumstances with either Fear or Faith. I’ve walked through a number of hard things lately – unwanted news, sick loved ones, painful relationships – and my knee-jerk reaction is usually fear. I want to respond with faith, but how do I get there? In those hard times I’ve discovered that on my own I don’t have the strength to stand up in faith. It leaves me feeling trapped and overwhelmed, like I’m in a windowless room so dark I can’t find the door.
In her book, Girl Meets Change, Kristen Strong states, “Gratitude provides a window in a windowless room…When change wipes all the natural light from the rooms of my heart, being thankful is the way to usher it back in. Being thankful helps me creak open bolted shutters and knock holes in thick walls.” By choosing to search for and find reasons to give thanks, I’m exercising faith that there is a reason to be thankful. And, that thankfulness allows the light to break through the darkness. It always requires a choice and the searching may not always be easy, but one thing is for certain, there is always something to be thankful for.
So with Thanksgiving upon us, I am relearning the power of gratitude. As I reflect on our forefathers, I admire how they found reason and strength to give thanks in the midst of grave circumstances. Even though they faced great hardship and even death, they deemed it worthy of celebration and in like fashion, we continue to celebrate today. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How different would our lives be if we chose to be intentionally thankful every single day no matter what our circumstances?
I want gratitude to become part of my daily practice. I want it to become a life discipline. In doing so, I’m finding ways to open the window of gratitude and live in the light. For my family that looks like a Gratitude journal on the dinner table where we take turns writing down the things we are thankful for that day. For me, it means keeping an Evernote file on my phone where I can jot down the things that that bring me joy and spur me on toward having a thankful heart. It means saying thank you to my spouse, coworkers and others I come in contact with. It means writing thank you notes and encouraging notes to the people that have touched my life and make me a better person. It means daily choosing Gratitude and opening wide the window to let the light in.
This Thanksgiving season, what new ways can you practice the daily discipline of giving thanks?