I have been humbled by the thankfulness of my friends.
I’ve shared in their Thanksgiving Day celebrations, sat as their tables and heard them express their appreciation. Even if someone has had a tough year, they have managed to find something to be thankful for.
By listening to them and sharing one small thank you myself, I have found my spirit lifted and my attention has shifted from my needs to my riches.
It’s good to cultivate contentment. It is beneficial to practice appreciation.
Often, though, I find my prayers are made up more of gripes than gratitude.
It’s not that I’m ungrateful; I’m just not very good at being grateful.
And, I have a lot to be cheerful about. I have a roof over my head, unlike those I walk by each day on the streets of Manhattan whose only shelter is a cardboard box. I have an abundance of clothes to choose from each morning. I have plenty of food, friends, family…the list goes on.
It’s easy to take the many good things I have for granted.
Other times, when life gives me a hard punch, then I struggle even more to be thankful.
Perhaps that’s where you are right now. Maybe you’ve lost a job, a loved one, your health, or money is not coming in as you hoped. In times like these, how do we pray?
I made a surprising discovery when I turned to the Bible to look for an answer.
Much of the thankfulness expressed is for eternal assets rather than for temporal possessions or conditions.
And so, I want to suggest a different way to pray when we don’t feel thankful.
If we think about the permanent things God gives us, instead of focusing on the things that are temporary, then we are guaranteed to feel satisfied and secure.
Here are a few reasons I found to be thankful:
God’s love for you never quits.
The morning after my dad died, the following Bible verse was on my daily scripture calendar:
I will be a father to you. 2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV)
You might lose a relationship with someone special, but God has a crazy, passionate love for you that will never end.
Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever. 2 Chronicles 20:21 (NIV)
God’s devotion to you never fails.
Maybe someone you trusted has let you down. Maybe you’ve been loyal in a job or relationship, but your employer or the other person has chosen to ignore your dependability and trustworthiness.
God, however, is completely trustworthy. He is fully committed to you and your wellbeing. He never betrays you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (NIV)
God has done amazing wonders for you.
I’m not talking here about the nice surprises in our lives, like finding the dream job we didn’t expect, or getting pregnant when we thought it would never happen. Instead, I’m talking about the miracle of a holy God becoming human so you and I have a future.
It reminds me of the words of Mary who despite difficult circumstances, looked to the eternal things God was doing that would affect generations to come—including you and me.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. Luke 1:49-50 (NIV)
What other eternal blessings can you be thankful for? Make them your prayer.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 (NIV)