One usually precedes the other.
It’s that time of year again: the time of year when the leaves change colors…the temperatures get cooler…the bucks start chasing does…and families get together for a reunion, a big meal and an afternoon of visiting, hunting or watching football.
But, in reality, true Thanksgiving isn’t an annual holiday or family reunion.
It’s an attitude and a lifestyle.
And, if we’re to truly experience it (and give it), we’ve got to know how to go about it. That’s why we should always remember “Thinking precedes thanking”—for it doesn’t happen automatically.
By nature we’re hotwired to think that everything revolves around us. Consequently, we expect others to show us the proper respect we “deserve.” And, if they don’t, we get pretty upset and often end up acting like a grown-up version of a spoiled, temper tantrum-throwing brat.
Or, when things don’t go the way they “should”—which means the way we want or expect them to—we get mad and fret and/or fume. This is especially so when we feel like we’ve been wronged, betrayed or taken advantage of by someone.
So, again, that’s why thanksgiving isn’t something that happens automatically; in fact, it’s a learned, intentional response of the heart, mind and will.
The Bible teaches that we should “give thanks in all things—for this is God’s Will for us in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18). We should notice that it doesn’t say “BECAUSE of all things,” but “in” all things. Just as He said He would “work everything together FOR good in our lives if we love Him and are fulfilling His Purpose for our lives” (Romans 8:28)—not that everything “IS” good—so is thanksgiving the result of an “attitude of gratitude.”
Look at it this way:
Two people can go through a similar difficulty and one of them will continually complain, throw a hissy fit and grow bitter while the other one will remain calm and still be content in spite of everything.
What’s the difference?
The heart and mind.
The upset individual feels “deprived” or insulted, while the peaceful one looks for the good in the situation—knowing “tribulation produces patience, which produces character and hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
The difference is their attitude toward their problems. And, thankfully, when we realize the Heavenly Father knows what we’re going through…and will give us “sufficient Grace” in everything (II Corinthians 12:9-10)…we’ll find ourselves being thankful regardless of what’s happening.
So, again, dear Reader, thinking precedes thanking.
Or, as the old Gospel song says, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, And you are discouraged thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one—and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Why not pause right now as you read these words, grab a pen and piece of paper and make a list of things you’re thankful for? Write down the names of those people who’ve helped you in one way or the other this year; then, give them a call or write them a letter thanking them for their kindness.
In so doing, you’ll find that things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem. You’ll also likely hear the Heavenly Father whispering “Beautiful” as the wind weaves its way through the boughs of the tree.
Here’s hoping you’ll have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. God bless you.
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.