"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1 ESV)
"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)
When our family gathered together in years past for Thanksgiving dinner we would sometimes ask, "what are you thankful for?" Then we'd go around the table and share our thoughts. Of course, when the children were little, favorite pets or toys would be in the forefront. As we grew, we began to see all the things that God had done and was doing in our lives. It's important not only to feel gratitude for all that God is and has provided and has promised, but also to verbalize those blessings in actual giving-of-thanks to God. He is the Fount of all good, and to him belongs all the credit and glory and thanks.
If you or your family run out of blessings to give thanks for, here's a list that may help:
God exists, and he reigns over all! He is the Center, and not we ourselves. God (not chance) rules over all creation and history, working all things according to the counsel of his most wise and glorious will. Give thanks for these truths!
God is unchanging in his essence, nature and purposes. God is good, his steadfast love endures forever, he is infinitely wise and powerful, and he is not capricious or evil. Give thanks that he is trustworthy!
God has made a beautiful creation: trees, mountains, animals, and many other things. For all things bright and beautiful, great and small, wise and wonderful -- give thanks to God for all that he has made!
We are created in the image of God: we can think, feel, touch, love, and make choices, and when renewed by God's grace, we can make good choices. Give thanks for this!
God cares enough for us that he has revealed himself to us in words that we can read and understand. He wants us to know him! Thank him for the gift of His Word, the Bible.
God sent his Son into the world that we might be saved. Give thanks that when we could not come to him, he came to us!
Jesus is God and man in one Person. He knows our weaknesses, and he is mighty to deliver us. Give thanks for such a great Savior!
On the Cross, Jesus bore all our guilt, shame, debt, and brokenness. His mercy extends even to the lowest of lost sinners. He has taken away our sin, and it never to be placed to our account again. Give thanks for this!
The tomb that Jesus was placed in was only a temporary place for him. The Father was pleased with his Son's sacrifice, He is risen forevermore, and the new creation has begun. Give thanks!
In Christ you have forgiveness, new life, adoption into God's family, and a calling to serve in his Kingdom. It is he who is at work in you both to will and to work for is good pleasure. Give thanks for your union with Christ!
God gives you a spiritual family for fellowship, to encourage and build you up in Christ. Give thanks for the church!
God is a God of providence. He guides your life and provides for your needs: food, clothing, shelter, safety, and much more. Give thanks for many such blessings you have received!
The Lord has a purpose for your life. You have received from him a calling, talents, gifts, and a reason to live and serve God and others. Give thanks for this!
Do you have a family? If your family life is happy, that is a gift from God -- give thanks for this! If your family life is not happy, this is a way God draws you to himself to find the happiness that only he can give. Give thanks in all things!
Do you have friends? Give thanks for the wonderful gift of friendship, for those who stick close to us through thick and thin. Are you lonely? Give thanks that there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Do you live at peace in your neighborhood? Give thanks to God for those in your community who observe and preserve law and order. It may seem rarer these days but give thanks to the Lord for what he has provided.
Are you employed? Give thanks for this. Are you unemployed? Give thanks in all things and believe that he will never abandon or forsake you. Give thanks to him who supplies all your needs.
Are you healthy? This is a gift from God. Are you in sickness, in pain, or in sorrow? Give thanks that your Father in heaven cares for you, will never leave you, and will one day wipe every tear away. Give thanks ahead of time!
Are you, or your loved ones, in severe trial these days? Give thanks to God that these things will work for their good, and one day this purifying work will be completed.
Finally, God will one day banish evil forever, and will establish a new heavens and earth in truth, beauty and righteousness. Give thanks for the glorious future we have!
Image credit. The painting above is "The Thankful Poor", by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1894).