A Grateful Heart
A Thanksgiving Day compilation
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I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.—Psalm 69:301
Every day should be Thanksgiving Day—a time to thank God for all our many blessings. We should be thankful and treasure every moment of every day and constantly be praising and thanking God for it. Every day can be Christmas if the Spirit of Christmas lives in our hearts. Every day can be every holiday rolled into one when we make it so in our hearts and live it so through our actions.—David Brandt Berg
It was Thanksgiving Day and I was ten years old. I was in a welfare ward of a city hospital and was scheduled to undergo major orthopedic surgery the next day. I knew that I could only look forward to months of confinement, convalescence, and pain. My father was dead; my mother and I lived alone in a small apartment and we were on welfare. My mother was unable to visit me that day.
As the day went on, I became overwhelmed with the feeling of loneliness, despair, and fear. I knew my mother was home alone worrying about me, not having anyone to be with, not having anyone to eat with, and not even having enough money to afford a Thanksgiving Day dinner.
The tears welled up in my eyes, and I stuck my head under the pillow and pulled the covers over it. I cried silently, but oh so bitterly, so much that my body racked with pain.
A young student nurse heard my sobbing and came over to me. She took the covers off my face and started wiping my tears. She told me how lonely she was, having to work that day and not being able to be with her family. She asked me whether I would have dinner with her. She brought two trays of food: sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and ice cream for dessert. She talked to me and tried to calm my fears. Even though she was scheduled to go off duty at 4 P.M., she stayed on her own time until almost 11 P.M. She played games with me, talked to me and stayed with me until I finally fell asleep.
Many Thanksgivings have come and gone since I was ten, but one never passes without me remembering that particular one and my feelings of frustration, fear, loneliness, and the warmth and tenderness of the stranger that somehow made it all bearable.—Martin Ginsberg2
A Thanksgiving Day editorial in the newspaper told of a schoolteacher who asked her class of first-graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from poor neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. But she knew that most of them would draw pictures of turkeys or tables with food. The teacher was taken aback with the picture Douglas handed in—a simple, childishly drawn hand.
But whose hand? The class was captivated by the abstract image. “I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,” said one child.
“A farmer,” said another, “because he grows the turkeys.”
Finally when the others were at work, the teacher bent over Douglas’ desk and asked whose hand it was. “It’s your hand, teacher,” he mumbled.
She recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby, forlorn child, by the hand. She often did that with the children. But it meant so much to Douglas. Perhaps this was everyone’s Thanksgiving, not for the material things given to us but for the chance, in whatever small way, to give to others.—Author unknown
Being grateful is a choice that we readily and ritually express on Thanksgiving Day. But what do we do on other days of the year when the mood is less festive or the atmosphere is more ordinary?
I like the contented way the Pilgrims approached life. They did not allow their feelings or circumstances to determine whether or not they would exercise gratitude and thanksgiving. They believed that God was in control—“providence,” they called it. Following this belief to its logical conclusion, they responded to challenges with a perspective that said, “God has allowed this for our good.” They chose to believe—rightly so—that their dependence on a holy, faithful God was well placed and that even though much was against them, there was always much more for which to be grateful.
Developing a heart of gratitude is essential to growing a strongerfaith. As John Piper stated in his book A Godward Life, “If we do not believe that we are deeply dependent on God for all we have or hope to have, the very spring of gratitude and faith runs dry.”
Make the choice today to take your eyes off yourself and your circumstances, gratefully acknowledging who God is and what He is doing. Deny yourself the right to complain, embracing instead the deep-seated joy of thanksgiving . . . in all things.
A grateful heart pleases God.—Barbara Rainey3
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.—Psalm 107:14
As we enter Thanksgiving, we tend to focus on our blessings and giving thanks for God’s goodness. While that is certainly a good thing, it is not the best thing. The best thing is to turn Thanksgiving into Thanks-living. Regardless of the day or the situation, God wants us to be thankful. Why is that?
1) Thanks-living lets God know you have confidence in Him, no matter how deep the problems or how dire the circumstances. Thanks isfaithturned inside out.
2) Thanks-living changes your countenance and disposition. Instead of being down and discouraged, spreading gloom and despair everywhere you go, you begin to radiate the joy of the Lord. The best witnesses for Christ are those who are facing life’s trials with a song of thanksgiving on their lips.
3) Thanks-living opens the door for God to work. God hates it when we grumble and gripe ... but He loves it when we praise and give thanks. As we begin to live a life of thankfulness to God, He begins to work, even through the toughest trials and tests of faith. Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison … and they sang a hymn of praise to the Lord. And when they finished singing, the Lord sent a jailhouse rock, and the prison doors were opened. … God does miracles on our behalf when we choose to thank Him and praise Him, even in the deepest, darkest pit.
Let me challenge you as I challenge myself. Discipline yourself to give thanks in everything. Thank Him for the mountains … and thank Him for the valleys. He is worthy of all your thanks and praise.—Jeff Schreve5
Published on Anchor November 2014. Read by Debra Lee. Music by Michael Dooley.
2 As related by Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People.
3 Moments with You—Couples Devotional.