By Heather Adams, Crosswalk.com
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good (Psalm 136:1).
This season of the year naturally sparks an awareness of what we’re grateful for. Your list, like mine, probably starts with family, friends, health, and other good things.
And while all of those are important, they actually point us toward the deeper blessings we receive from our Heavenly Father.
Giving thanks to God in every circumstance is part of our call as believers. And Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on how God has worked, both in our lives and around us. If we look, we’ll catch glimpses of His goodness.
Acknowledging and praising them will grow an “attitude of gratitude” in our hearts that will last all year long.
Day 1: Gratitude Because the Lord Loves Us
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call on you (Psalm 86:5).
When I think about the love that God has for His people, two things come to mind:
1. How amazing it is. I can find all sorts of evidence of God’s love for me every day. From answered prayer to the view of nature out my window, He blesses me in the biggest and smallest of ways.
And even with all the experiences I’ve had of His love so far, I will never know the fullness of it in this lifetime.
2. How unworthy I am of it. I used to be uncomfortable with God’s love because I knew I didn’t deserve it. It’s true that nothing I could ever do or accomplish will make me worthy to have God’s love. But He has affection for us, flawed and faulty as we are.
Father God, I am humbled and delighted that You delight in me. Thank You for having such an abounding and abiding love that is deeper and fuller than I can imagine. Let me wake up each day so aware of it that I can’t help but share it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Day 2: Gratitude That God Forgives Our Sins
When I first started learning more about God, I struggled with guilt. My mistakes and bad decisions caused me lots of condemnation.
But over time, He taught me that I could ask for and receive His forgiveness. Acknowledging my sin stopped being a path to despair and grew into a pathway to praise.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Through the ages, God has given us the chance for repentance — first with animal sacrifices, and ultimately through Jesus’ work on the cross. I’ll never fully understand this “indescribable gift” as Paul put it, but I rejoice in the thought that my holy God could see me as righteous.
Lord God, I am so grateful to You for the gift of forgiveness through Jesus. It releases me from a life of angst and gives me confidence to move forward. Let me walk with my eyes on You and my mind on Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Day 3: Gratitude That God Is Always Doing New Things
One of my favorite aspects of God’s character is His creativity. I’ve heard it said we shouldn’t assume we know how He will move in any situation, because He might surprise us.
And over and over, I’ve experienced what I call God’s “curveballs” — moments when a solution or outcome arrives in a totally unexpected way. They delight me since I know it can only be the Lord’s doing.
This trait of God also stresses how much He values renewal, whether through nature’s change in seasons, within the hearts of His people or in the way He reaches out to us:
...for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning… (Lamentations 2:22-23).
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God (Psalm 40:3).
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Lord God, I am so grateful that You are always creating new things and can make anything new. This truth brings me such encouragement and hope. You are still active and involved in the world. So, give me eyes to see Your handiwork, whatever it may look like. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Day 4: Gratitude for Peace in Light of So Much Unrest Around Us
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
While still young in the faith, I found difficult situations or people stirred up fear in me. But now, going through unsettled times reminds me of the firm foundation God makes available to me.
Knowing that I am protected and cared for by Him in every circumstance brings a sense of comfort and strength to my heart.
We are part of a “kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). And even in the worst of moments, we can have confidence, not in ourselves, but in our mighty and loving King.
Lord God, it says in Your Word that we will have trouble in this world. But I thank You that though circumstances may be difficult, I can rest, knowing You are keeping me safe and secure. Please show me how to direct others to the peace You provide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Day 5: Gratitude for the Healing Power of Nature
I find that being in nature always lifts my spirits and calms my thoughts. If I’m troubled by anxiety or perplexed by a problem, simply turning my awareness toward the plants I see or birds I hear leads me to think of the One who provided them. I begin to feel surrounded by His presence.
Psalm 104 declares how the Lord expressed His creativity all around us:
...he stretches out the heavens like a tent… (v.2).
He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved (v.5).
He makes springs pour water into the ravines… (v.10).
The trees of the Lord are well watered… (v.16).
He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down (v.19).
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number… (v.25).
God designed nature for His enjoyment and for ours. He knows that just a quiet stroll there can bring us to a place of deep connection with Him, and to greater peace of mind.
Dear God, the natural world is so full of color and light. I am so thankful that You gave us this display of creativity and that we can share in Your delight with it. Give us the wisdom to both enjoy and care for what You’ve made. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Day 6: Gratitude for How God Uses the Losses We Experience
The idea that God wants to use suffering for good can seem puzzling, and even upside-down to us. Honestly, loss is something I’ve tried to avoid, and haven’t usually been thankful for.
But I’ve come to see loss — of a loved one, a cherished dream, or anything else I’ve held dear — as a way for God to give me “the oil of joy instead of mourning” (Isaiah 61:3), and even to build His Kingdom.
The journey from grieving to gratitude is a process that God has led me through many times.
- First, I experience the comfort that He offers me, a source of strength that I lean into.
- Over time, I start to become more sensitive to people around me who are hurting.
- Then I feel an urge to share how God has helped me to encourage them.
The Apostle Paul wrote about this beautiful exchange in 2 Corinthians:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Lord God, You truly do work in mysterious ways sometimes. Thank You for always working for our good, though, whatever we may experience along the way. Help me to welcome what You are doing, rather than try to hide from it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Day 7: Gratitude That God Doesn’t Want Us to Be Alone
When we go through bad relationship experiences in life, we can be tempted to build a sort of emotional wall to keep others at a distance. But God’s plan for all His beloved includes being in community.
First and foremost, we are called to be in relationship with our Father, a bond that will never break.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1).
I have loved you with an everlasting love… (Jeremiah 31:3).
Families, friendships, and church bodies are also given by God as opportunities to love and be loved.
God sets the lonely in families… (Psalm 68:6).
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Letting others in is something I’ve had to get better at, but the wonderful result is feeling more understood and accepted. Agape, or selfless, love isn’t just an idea for me anymore, but a way I try to connect with others.
Lord, Thank You for all the ways You provide fellowship for us. I’m reassured to know that with You I am never truly alone. Make me a more loving worshipper, family member, and sister in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Psalm 71 says, “My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” For me, that evokes an image of someone who is always ready to lift God up.
Let’s take time now, during the Thanksgiving season, to give our gratitude to God. As we do, we’ll become more aware of His grace in our lives every day.
Photo Credit: ©SparrowStock
Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather's blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby! You can connect with her on her website: heatheradamsworshipwalk.com