A Thankful Heart:
A Thanksgiving Message
By Dan Weaver-White
As we all busily prepare for Thanksgiving each year, we find ourselves using words like thankful and grateful. They seem to flow out of our mouths with such ease that it seems that we use them every single day. There is something about preparing the biggest meal of the year and gathering with our friends and families that puts the words thankful and grateful at the forefront of our minds. When we gather together on Thanksgiving, many of us relay to others all of the blessings that we have in our lives. We go around the table and each person recites his list of things for which he is thankful. In school, we encourage our students to tell us what they are thankful for, and in our churches we sing songs and give testimonials about all the blessings that we have received from God. We seem to think that it would not be Thanksgiving if we did not go through this yearly ritual.
Being thankful on Thanksgiving is a hugely important thing to do, but often once the turkey is eaten, the pumpkin pie has been sliced, and the dishes are washed, we go back to not being as thankful as we know we should be. It is not that we do not have anything to be thankful for, but the ordinariness of our lives and the negative things of the world begin to quickly weigh us down again, and we find ourselves focusing more on the negative things associated with this life than the positive things.
Having a thankful heart and being grateful for all that we have should not be something that we do once or twice a year. It should be a way of life for all of us. When we have a grateful heart, we have more peace in our lives. When we have a grateful heart, we have less negativity in our lives, and we see events and situations in a different light. When we live our lives with a thankful heart, we feel lighter and happier. We feel that life has meaning and that we can overcome all the obstacles that come our way.
I know that in my own life there have been times when it has been a struggle for me to think of something that I am grateful for, but looking back on the valleys of my life now, I can see that there certainly were many things to be grateful for. If the valleys of life do nothing more for us, they teach us just how much we have to be thankful for. Of course, the valleys of life teach us far more than that. They teach us to have faith, to be strong, and to lean on God. They show us that God is still in the miracle- making, prayer-answering business, and soon we realize that had we not walked through the valley we would not have all the blessings that we now have.
I, like so many people, become very reflective during this time of year, and I have increasingly found myself being thankful for the valleys in my life. When we gather on Thanksgiving, we find ourselves being thankful for the same things year after year. The things that we list are so very important, and they certainly are blessings from God that we should be thankful for, but maybe we should try something a little different this year.
Maybe in addition to reciting our usual list of things for which we are thankful, we should find ourselves reflecting more on the things that we did not think were blessings when they first occurred. Maybe we should say that we are thankful for the valleys and turbulent times in our lives. Maybe we should say that we are thankful for the pain that we endured this year, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Maybe we should list the times we have been disheartened or depressed as a blessing that happened to us this year. I believe that if we all would do this, we would see just how far we have come because of those trials. I believe we would see how much God was with us during those times, and I believe that other people would begin to see their own struggles in a very different way. When they see that we can actually be thankful for the valleys in our own lives, they will begin to see the valleys of their lives differently.
We have all been called to bring light to the world. We have all been called to show what miracles God is capable of doing, and sharing our struggles and being truly thankful for them is one of the many ways that we can answer our calling. Being thankful for the struggles in this life and realizing that with God’s help we can overcome those struggles and be better, stronger people because of them will help all of us live every day with a grateful heart. We will find ourselves sharing what we are grateful for, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day that we live. Being grateful and truly living with an attitude of thankfulness will lead to peace, and peace matters.
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