As we are in the week of Thanksgiving, I feel thankful.
Or at least I know I am supposed to feel thankful.
I have so much I am thankful for. We have the kids list our blessings and our thanksgiving at all our prayer times several times a day. From our family to our house to our food and clothes and basic necessities to the wonderful gift of Jesus loving us and giving His life to take away the sins of the world. There are so, so, so many more blessings we can name. Just ask my kids to pray, and you will hear dozens.
What do we do when we don’t “feel” thankful or joyful.
Sometimes seasons of life are hard. This year, for many, has been the hardest we have experienced in our lifetime.
Quarantine and Isolation.
Sickness and Death.
So many unknowns.
Just to name a few things.
Thanksgiving looks a lot different this year for many families. We aren’t gathering around family. We might be frightened about contracting (or more than likely, transmitting) a disease that nobody really understands and preys on fear. We might gather but feel guilty over the what-ifs or the stigmas around being around members outside your immediate household. We might have just lost loved-ones or jobs or any number of situations. And that is just the abnormal. That is not factoring in day to day stressors of “normal life.”
So, with all that’s going on. What do I do if I don’t feel thankful?
So many times, even in Christianity, we focus on ourselves. We focus on our feelings, our desires, our circumstances. AllieBeth Stucky calls it “Me-ology” in her new book You’re not Enough, but That’s OK. We over valuate ourselves, and in essence idolize and worship at the alter of self. Me-ology says, I have no reason to be thankful. This year has been “craptastic”, and I will make the turkey, but I don’t have a thankful list. This year is too hard. (Believe me, I’m pretty much there for all the reasons I’ve listed above.) Ya’ll there is aa misconception that our feelings are not only valid (which is suspect at best) but the MOST important factor. That is simply not true. The Bible says that our heart is deceitful. (Jeremiah 17:9)
We can have emotions. We aren’t robots.
Paul said to be angry but do not sin. The emotion is anger. The sin is what you do with the anger. But I digress.
It is ok to be sad.
Don’t let your emotions overrun your attitude or spirit of Thanksgiving. Thank Him anyway.
While the world says to feel your feelings, true Christianity and the Bible says that we are to worship and offer thanksgiving for who GOD is. Praise God, He never changes. Through the midst of all of life, all of our circumstances, all the uncertainty and heartaches, HE IS GOOD.
All throughout the Psalms, we read of the people of Israel or David himself praising God because of the characteristics of Him.
I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Praise the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
We don’t thank God for our feelings. Sometimes, we thank God IN SPITE of our feelings. We thank God for who HE is. Not even what He’s done for us in our current circumstances, necessarily.
We also operate in a SPIRT of Thanksgiving. While for most of the country, Thanksgiving is a day (or more recently a month) where we stop and remind ourselves of our country and our blessings, Christians are supposed to live in a complete spirit of thanksgiving.
Paul exhorts believers in the end of 1 Thessalonians 5 to “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is the very end of the book to the believers at Thessalonica. Paul has written because the church has suffered unexpected deaths within the church. He teaches them about the second coming of Christ as well as reassures them through their persecution. (I love looking at verses through context of the whole chapter, book, and Bible.)
So, this church is going through hard times and Paul reminds them to give thanks in all things. Even when things are bleak. Because God is good.
So, if you are in a depression this Thanksgiving season, if you are stuck in the bleakness of feelings and life circumstances, here are a few things to be thankful for.
- God. God’s grace. God’s Sovereignty. God’s love. God’s mercy. Do I need to go on? What are some attributes of God? Who is God? Not “Who is God to you?” But who does the Bible say He is? That is a big topic in and of itself. But it might be good to Google it. Or bring out your study Bible or concordance or whatever you have and see what the Bible says yourself, instead of what I say. (I just asked my 8 year old what to do when you don’t feel thankful. He replied, “Read the Bible.” He’s a wise kid.)
- Our Salvation. There are so many verses to quote on this one, but Hebrews 12:28-29 tells us Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
- Family. Obviously, this is at the top of my list. My husband and my kids are a big blessing to my life, even when they annoy me a little. Or even when I am overwhelmed at the thought of caring for them. I am thankful for them.
- Everything. No really. Everything. That’s such a cliché answer, but Paul tells us to be thankful for everything in Ephesians 5:18-20.
- Fellow believers in Christ. Romans 1:8 says “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” I might not know you, but if you are a fellow believer, I thank God for you. Because through your witness, His name is proclaimed.
There is so much for us to be thankful. These are just 5 topics to get you started.
Believe me I know what it is like to be completely stuck and not able to think of anything to give thanks for. But, honestly, that is me being inside “my feelings”, which we have already said might not be the best place to be. A good way to get out of this mindset is to get a pen and paper and start listing things. Start with the list above. Go though your Bible and see what the Bible says to be thankful for, or, more specifically, find who the Bible says God is.
God is good. Let’s start our thankfulness with Him and His goodness. Our feelings and our circumstances will change. He never will.