Thanksgiving is the key to happiness. You cannot be at peace if you aren’t thankful.
I have found that “being thankful” is a discipline. You can become a better dancer, a better student, master fixing your car (harder than becoming a nuclear physicist in my experience), and you can become thankful.
The key to becoming thankful is love. If you love the right things, they won’t betray you. Miserable people have made bad decisions; loving with expectations is something that takes more than gives.
Bitterness and anger can pour from your thoughts into words. The discipline of thanksgiving puts the negative thoughts back in the box of hell where they belong.
The Bible contains many verses on rejoicing, but the verse most helpful to me in developing a discipline of thanksgiving has been this:
“Jesus said, ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
Through 48 years as a pastor, I hear negative words about three areas:
- About God or a life situation. With trials, we get mad at God or just become sullen. I observe many who love their “sullenness” – grumpy, easily agitated. They have lost faith in a big God.
- About others. Bitterness, gossip, slander! Listening to others, how soon their words deteriorate to complaining about what others have done.
- About self. Guilt, self-condemnation, lacking confidence, fear. Too easily we believe that we can’t!
We are made in the image of God and since God is love, we are made to love God, others, and self. If even one of the “thankful three” get poisoned, the other two die.
You are thinking now:
“Pastor Grant, this is a bit obscure. I was thinking that the key to becoming thankful is getting up in the morning and saying something for which I’m thankful. In fact, you have written for us to do this. Now you say the key to becoming thankful is learning to love.”
Guilty! I love God, others, self, and you, but I can be confusing.
Let me say it in another way:
Loving is the same as being thankful. If you love God, others, and self, you will be thankful for God, others, and self. Nothing that you or others do can destroy this love since it is supernatural.
You love through your words. Being thankful is a discipline, motivated by love, that can change your attitude. Often, I hear the encouragement “be thankful” – sort of like forcing yourself to say the right words and speaking these words will change your heart.
There is truth in rejoicing that works backwards to a changed heart. I believe it easier to combine both love and thanksgiving.
- God, I love you. Help me to love you. I am thankful for (insert something).
- God, I’m having difficulty loving (insert name). I pray your blessings to be with them. When I think of this person, I am thankful for (insert here).
- God, I am not loving myself in this area (insert area). You have a plan for my life. My trials are working toward the good since I walk in your calling. I am thankful for (insert something).
For the next week ask for the supernatural intervention of God’s love. Combine this love with a spoken word of thanksgiving. Get up in the morning and pray #1, #2, and #3.
Grow in love through being thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!