How about beginning with life? As it says in the book of Job: “If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish
together and mankind would return to the dust.” Not only is He the Author of life but also its Sustainer.
What about our gifts and abilities? We are each born with different inborn aptitudes, physical attributes and talents. We may work at developing them but we do not generate them.
Our health? Praise God if you are healthy but living as we do in a fallen world, disease and decay are a fact of life. No one is healthy all the time and we have to die of something someday. Praise God for our body’s ability to mend itself and overcome pathogens. Praise God for its ability to heal from injury. We didn’t come up with this, it is a gift.
What about our ability to earn our living? We may do work, earn a wage but our ability to do so is not self generated.
What about this amazing world where we live? And along with it, what about the senses that God has given to us that allow us to enjoy it. After a winter storm I look out on a sunny morning and praise God for the beauty that I see and for giving me the eyes to see it. And ears to hear the meadowlark, and a nose to smell the sage after a rain, skin to feel the breeze, a mouth to taste my food etc.
Not only has He placed us here in the world but He has equipped us to enjoy it.
As you look around your home and see your children and mate, do you praise Him for that? I remember holding our firstborn and marveling at his perfectly formed body. I hold my wife, children and grandchildren and am moved to thanksgiving. How He has enriched my life! I can remember when all I thought I had in the world was an old truck, a black dog and some clothing stuffed in a backpack. He has blessed me abundantly.
Do you thank Him for adversity? If our way was always smooth would we ever grow? He shapes us through the difficult times.
Do you thank Him for physical closeness? The hug of a loved one, the bond of shared lives and experience, the grubby kisses of the small ones? How poor we would be without them!
Are you thankful for the “basics?” A roof over our head, electricity, heat, indoor plumbing, food in the refrigerator (even having a ‘fridge!) - most of the world would count these incredible luxuries.
I could go on in this vein for as long as I can type. Maybe longer! In doubt as to where to begin? Start with the basics and move outward.
“ Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:18. If you are dubious about why to be grateful this should help you out. It is God’s will that we be thankful in all circumstances. Boy does this cover a lot! Not just being thankful for the what but for the when and how - that is His will for us. Not everything is good or enjoyable but He works in and through all things. That is the truth behind Rom 8:28 - He causes all things to work together for good. That is why Job praised Him in disaster. That is why we praise God. It is a declaration of faith in His benign will and purpose toward us. Even when we cannot see it in our present circumstance. It is a declaration on our part that we trust Him to cause all things to work out according to His will for good.
Are you thankful to Him for our Lord Jesus? Consider what He has done for us and who He is? The Lord and Creator of the universe regarded us enough, had compassion on us despite our sin and identified with us in our humanity, taking upon Himself our collective guilt and satisfying God’s justice. All this through His incarnation, death and resurrection. And at the Father’s right hand He intercedes for us. He is not ashamed to call us His family and He is preparing to spend eternity with us. He and the Father sent the Holy Spirit and will complete in us the work that began when we placed our faith in Him.
Are you thankful for the Holy Spirit? He is the one who places us into the family of God the moment we believe, seals us as His own, leads, comforts, convicts, teaches and opens up God’s word to us.
This is just a beginning. One could go on (and on) this way for a long while. And we should and it is healthy to do it. Here we are in Fall 2020. Who could have predicted what this year would bring at this time last year? All the political upheaval, COVID 19, drought, fires and much more. But, if you are reading this you are still here! As stated in an old Persian saying, “This too will pass.” Sooner or later there is change. There always is. But God remains the same, can be trusted and is the Source of everything good. Search your hearts often and be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving