Cultivating a Heart of Thankfulness

I love this time of year. The countdown to Thanksgiving in America is marked with regular posts on Facebook of what we’re grateful for (#blessed) and a preparation for the biggest shopping day of the year. Because even when we think we’re grateful, we’re eyeing the next best thing to add to our collection.

My own reflections on thankfulness, be it in the spring, summer, or at Thanksgiving, are fleeting. I place the source of my thankfulness in superficial things, the weather, that perfect sweater, when my Starbucks order isn’t messed up. Sometimes, when I’m feeling ultra-spiritual, I am thankful for my health, family, and friendships. You know, the stuff the holiday is really about.

But when I search through my Bible, I don’t see my sweaters or even the good things, my friends and family, as the needed reason behind a thankful heart.

When I look at what the Creator of the world has revealed about thankfulness, it’s not rooted in what’s around me. Even the good things in my life fall short, over and over again. Sweaters will shrink. Friends will forget to call. Family will hurt you. Nothing in this life, no matter how noble its purpose, will be able to sustain its role perfectly. I can be thankful for my blessings, but they cannot be the sources of sustained thankfulness.

True thankfulness, thankfulness that lasts past Thanksgiving day and flows over into the rest of my life, is rooted in who God is and the redeemed Kingdom He is creating for us.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. -Psalm 106:1, ESV

God’s goodness inspires true thanksgiving simply by the nature of who He is. He is good. His love is enduring from generation to generation. We are not abandoned or loved in spurts when we are good; His love is steadfast.

This is a reason for true thankfulness. Like His love, this thankfulness is not dependent on seasons. God is not a human who will hurt or abandon us. We can maintain thankfulness because of His character.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. -Hebrews 12:28-29, ESV

Again, this is a beautiful reminder that true gratitude transcends time and circumstances. It is rooted firmly in God’s truth. Our circumstances, as overwhelming as they may seem at times are not the final chapter in our story. We are assured over and over again in Scripture that God will prevail. His coming Kingdom, and His rulership over the current world, these are unshakable.

If we are going to maintain an attitude of thankfulness, we must fix our eyes on truth. Our days cannot be organized around the temporary. My true heart can never be filled by good weather, sweaters, or even family. Deep down, gratitude that won’t be shaken by the ups and downs of life, only comes when we are fixing our eyes upon God.

As we walk through this month focusing on gratitude, we should spur each other on to seek true gratitude. Don’t fall prey to settling for lesser things, seek after the things of God that provide the concrete foundation for lasting thankfulness. Take this opportunity to proclaim His steadfast love. Shout of His goodness in the midst of adversity. Tell your friends on Facebook of the blood He shed for the redemption of your soul.

Once we put all of the lesser goods in our lives into perspective, we can truly enjoy them with the undercurrent of the everlasting joy and thankfulness that comes from Christ.

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