I always wonder why it is only the Canadians and Americans who have a specific day set aside in the year called Thanksgiving day. While I was reading up on the history of this day, I was delighted to learn that although the tradition dates back to the 1600’s it has its roots in religious traditions and was set aside to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest and the preceding year.
Whereas we should not wait for a single day in the year to show gratitude, sometimes maintaining a an attitude of gratitude can be difficult especially after a rough or tough year. Try as you may the bad things that may have happened sap your joy and shift your focus. However, when you think of it, scripture is full of several instances where we are called upon to be grateful. Below, I consider two reasons why in spite of what may have or not happened this year, we should all purpose to end it with a heart of gratitude.
1. Being Grateful Improves Your Physical and Mental Health
How many times do we suffer the effects of stress simply because we are trying to keep up appearances or refusing to let go of what has happened. With the advent of social media it is so easy to think and feel like it is only you who has nothing to be thankful for. We are told that “a cheerful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength”. The truth is bad things happen to good people and whereas we may not have a logical explanation for why this is so, all we can do is make the most of what life offers. You need to maintain a positive outlook and remember your best days lie ahead and never behind you. There was a time in my life when I had to repeat this statement to myself everyday just so life would go on.
Whereas maintaining a cheerful heart all the time may not be possible; sometimes you can at least avoid having a broken spirit by focusing on what you have left. What comes to mind now is the classic hymn Count your blessings. Here is a version with the lyrics of the song youtu.be/9fMjgS4vu4o.
The key to being grateful in spite of your circumstances is to shift your focus away from what is wrong and focus on what is right. When you do this, you inevitably find that you have reason to be grateful.
2. We Are Commanded to be thankful
I am often taken aback by Habakkuk’s Prayer for emphasis let me reproduce it
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, YET I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”
For sure Habakkuk was heeding the scripture that commands us to “enter his gates with thanks giving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name”.
You have to remember that in the bible times, crop failure and death of animals was enough to devastate anyone and yet Habakkuk purposed in his mind that even if this happened he would still find hope and rejoice in the Lord. He taught us how he chose not to be controlled by what happened around him. Instead he would focus on the Lord and that is where he would draw his strength.
Today we are better off taking a leaf from Habakkuk and obeying the command to be thankful by remembering that even when nothing seems to make sense and the troubles you face are more than you can bear God is still faithful and he will come through. Even if it means daily affirming that “my best days lie ahead of me and not behind me” I urge you to do so because for sure, being grateful will only do you good and not harm.