Being truly "thank-full" requires looking beyond our blessings to the One who blesses. It’s about being full of gratitude for Christ, not just being full of thanks for what He has given us.
"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan." Luke 17:15-16 (NIV)
So, ’tis the season to be thankful. Everywhere you look, people are talking about being thankful, focusing on expressing thankfulness and even posting the reasons they’re thankful on social media every day.
But you know what? Being "thankful" does not automatically mean we are being thank-full. Being thankful for the good things is really just being glad we are benefiting from those good things and appreciating God’s blessings upon us. But being truly thank-full requires looking beyond our blessings, to the One who blesses. It’s about being full of gratitude for Christ, not just being full of thanks for what He has given us or done.
If someone were to ask me today to spontaneously list the things I am thankful for, my list would probably be very similar to yours — food, a home, clothes, family, jobs, transportation, friends, health, etc. Each of these things are huge blessings, and tremendous reasons to be thankful, all of which I am very grateful for.
But I began to wonder: Is appreciating those blessings which I can physically touch or see really creating a solid attitude of thank-full-ness? Do I still feel thank-full when life is hard?
What about when we feel we don’t have anything to be thankful for from this past year? What about those of us who are out of work, lost homes, had children stray from the Lord, had marriages split up or received a challenging health diagnoses? What about those grieving the loss of someone they loved or struggling with infertility?
Maybe you can relate to one or more of those situations or are experiencing a different hardship in life, and if so, maybe the thought crossed your mind that possibly this is just not the year to feel thankful. But Thanksgiving isn’t just about counting our blessings.
Thanksgiving Day originally started with the Pilgrims, a group of believers who in the midst of extreme hardship, loss of loved ones and minimal food and supplies, still believed they were extremely blessed. They chose to celebrate and thank God for His blessings even though life was difficult and their blessings were few.
As I thought about this topic and the Pilgrims' unwavering thankfulness, I recalled the story found in Luke. In Luke 17:11-19, we read a story about a man whose heart was focused on Jesus, not just focused on his blessings. It’s the story of when Jesus had compassion, mercy and grace for ten lepers on the roadside, and healed each one of them … but only one returned to say thank you. Only one healed leper recognized that not only was his body healed, but also his soul. Only one man was so overwhelmed and full of thankfulness, that he took the time to say thanks.
The leper surely still had lots of problems in his life to face, but due to being thank-full, he heard Jesus give him the greatest blessing of all, when He said in Luke 17:19, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
As I read this story, I had to ask myself some hard questions: Am I thankful for what I do have and what Jesus has done in my life, or feeling unthankful or negative about what I don’t have and what I feel Jesus hasn’t done for me yet? I couldn’t help but wonder if my faith was helping me have an attitude of true gratitude in my heart, like the Pilgrims and the healed leper, even though everything in life wasn’t as I wanted it.
There will always be things we may not feel thankful for, but we can still be thank-full by putting a different focus on what thankfulness really is. Let’s open the door for our hearts to be transformed as we focus not on just thanking God for our blessings, but thanking Him for being the One who blesses.
Lord, forgive me for focusing more on the negatives in my life than the positives. Thank You for Your blessing of love, grace, mercy and eternal life. Fill my heart with Your spirit this Thanksgiving so I can be thank-full. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 107:1, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you been focusing more on the negatives of life, instead of the positives?
If you become more thank-full and take your gratitude for Christ beyond just counting your blessings, how might that new perspective change your heart, mind and life?