by Karen Sweeney-Ryall
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Thanksgiving. As a holiday, this is a day filled with family, food, and football. It also is a day to rest and reflect on God’s goodness to us and the many blessings we have to be thankful for.
For each new morning with its light,
for rest and shelter of the night,
for health and food,
for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I hear the word ‘thanksgiving’, I envision a heart overflowing with appreciation and gratitude. It is more than a simple thank you or “I am blessed”.
It is a heart and mind open wide with recognition of all the things, big and small, that we are fortunate enough to have.
When we wake in the morning: aware that we have our own warm and safe home with a comfy bed; thankful for the tasty and nutritious food we have to eat; appreciative of the family and friends whom we love and share life with. We offer thanks for our health, the job that we have, and the car that we drive.
What our thoughts focus on impacts our perspective, our feelings, and our responses to everything we encounter.
A heart of thanksgiving guides us to see the good around us more than the problems; to appreciate what we do have, more than fretting about what we don’t have; to have hope for today and our future, rather than worry or dread.
Being thankful helps keep a smile on our face, joy in our heart, and a skip in our steps.
I try to give gifts to those I love that are thoughtful, personal and meet the need and preferences of the recipient. I have four children and one says thank you with meaning, one returns almost every gift given, one says “oh, OK”.
But one exudes joyful thanks for every gift given, from a decorative pair of socks to an expensive coat. Her gratitude is genuine and bubbles over with joy. My response is delight and I want to give her more!
I have pondered that maybe God is a bit like this- He loves to give His children gifts when they appreciate what He has already given.
In Luke chapter 17, Jesus told a story of the ten lepers, who were suffering and ostracized because of the disease. They cried out to Him to have mercy on them.
Jesus told them to go see the priest and while they were on their way, they saw that they were healed.
Only one of the ten lepers returned to Jesus to thank him, loudly and publicly. Jesus asked aloud where were the other nine.
You can imagine how much more the one who expressed gratitude pleased God.
Especially in this time of unrest in our country, with concern about protecting what we have and our freedoms, we need to be thankful – as a person, as a family, and as a nation.
Perhaps it is more than coincidence that this holiday of Thanksgiving comes just ahead of Christmas. Being thankful for all we have, the goodness and generosity of God can be preparation for the greatest gift.
In just a few weeks, we will be celebrating a gift rooted in unfathomable, unconditional love. God sent His only Son, Jesus, from heaven to earth, to endure all sorts of hardship, suffering, and death, that we would have the gift of eternal life with them.
Join me in having a heart full of Thanksgiving!
Karen Sweeney-Ryall mentors women to live their dreams and fulfill the destiny designed for them by God. She is writing her first book, Revealing Your Treasures Hidden in Darkness and blogs at Becoming My Best Me. She speaks to women’s groups about our God-given unique identity, value, and calling and bringing beauty from the ashes of our difficult experiences.
Karen is an avid reader, loves the beach, nature, and travel, and enjoys her 4 children, 4 grandchildren, and one great- grandbaby. She works as a hospice bereavement coordinator and is active in women’s ministry and leadership at Living Hope Church.
Karen is a contributing writer at Real Women Ministries.
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