A Perspective on Thankfulness

  • Pete Johnson
Family of four sitting together in the woods

Thanksgiving is only a few short days away. Are you ready? I don’t mean the food preparation, or cleaning the house- How’s your outlook? Isn’t it so easy to focus on every little thing that goes wrong or just doesn’t live up to our expectations? If you are like me, at any given point in life, there are multiple things occurring that draw my energy away from thankfulness and toward myself and what is not going as I had planned. In one such moment recently, God helped change my perspective and quickly.

I opened an email …

it was regarding a family that I do not know personally, but this family has been struggling with a life and death situation. The father is extremely ill, sedated, and on a ventilator. The wife, who is also a mother, has been dealing with a medical system that will not provide a particular treatment and telling her that it looks like he will not make it. She has been praying, crying, wondering why this is going on. She has only been able to see him twice in over a month since he has been in the hospital. However, last night he woke up! He is still on the ventilator; this next line is a quote from the email.  “But ….. GOD answered a lot of prayers last night. And, I am very thankful.”    

As I read that email update, I had to sit back for a moment and evaluate my perspective on what being thankful really is. It is so very easy to take an inward perspective on thankfulness. Looking at what is going on with me, then processing those things to determine my level of Thanksgiving.  

I tend to be thankful for things that I have received, like financial blessings, family, friends, good health. But to be honest I’m not always thankful. I hope that you do not remember I wrote this but, I have a propensity to lean toward the complaining side rather than the thankful side of perception. However, I do become more thankful, or rather voice my thankfulness more often, when I hear about those who are suffering from things that I am not. But then I wonder if my “thankfulness” is not merely my attempt to ward off “bad things” that could potentially come my way!

Sometimes we perceive thankfulness comparatively. What I mean by that is, when a statement is made like how cold it will be this Thanksgiving Day, we would say. “Be thankful you don’t live in Antarctica!”
Or when we make a statement like, “Man, my feet are killing me!”, the comparative response would be, “Be thankful you have feet!”

I am very thankful that I don’t live in Antarctica, but what if I did? Shouldn’t I be grateful?

I am super grateful that I have feet, but what if I didn’t?

Paul wrote this to the Christians in Thessalonica

 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16–18  

The bottom line is this. I want to be truly thankful, to feel a deep sense of gratitude. But it is difficult to be thankful if I am constantly thinking that I could lose all the things that I am thankful for.

Here is something to think about today and this coming Thanksgiving that will change your perspective regarding thankfulness.

You may indeed lose the things that you have been blessed with upon this earth. Blessings that we receive here on earth are but temporary.

But God’s Word promises us eternal things to always be thankful for.

Believers stand uncondemned before a Holy God because Jesus took God’s wrath upon himself for us.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

Believers will never lose their salvation.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27–28

No matter what happens here on earth, nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35–39

Not feeling very thankful? Pray and ask God to change your perspective. God is good and has poured out his blessings on us, both here on earth, and in eternity to come!

Happy Thanksgiving!