“Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son
What a beautiful reminder, right? It always warms my heart to hear it and remember to give thanks. What could be more fitting for November and nearing Thanksgiving?
However, this year… has there been much that instantly comes to mind to be thankful for OR are you finding that this year you feel un-thankful? Un-thankful for COVID-19 and hardship caused because of it, for the election, for separation in our country, for family feuds because of the above, for financial issues that have put strife in your life, and couldn’t the list go on and on. That isn’t even mentioning the other medical issues, heartbreak, financial burdens, and issues at hand that don’t have to deal with the “state of the world”. There is always going to be a lot to be un-thankful for because we live in a sinful and broken world. However, that wouldn’t make a very good thanksgiving toast, right?
I love thanksgiving time and the purpose that it has served for my family and I. We would sit around the table and talk about what we were thankful for that year. Granted, most of the time, if not all the time, it would not be for the things that went wrong in our year… but all the things that went right. The beautiful things of marriage or being with family, a job raise or a healthy report back from the doctor, maybe even a new baby or a special moment with a loved one.
So, how do we do it? How do we refocus to having a thankful heart when it feels like the thankful parts are not there? The main question is, what are you focusing on? When I think about what to be thankful for this year -- of course, many things can come to mind. Time spent with my little family, refocusing on what truly matters, expecting a new child to our family, being able to serve God here at Shepherd of the Hills, and much more… But all that is the highlight reel of 2020 and could be taken away. So what can I/you be thankful for when all of that is not there and that won’t be taken away? Maybe you don’t have a list of things to be thankful for or are struggling to find the one thing.
Back to my refocusing idea, what is it that we are focusing on? Is it the one thing that no matter what we can be thankful for? The gift that God gave in His Son. He did that for you. He planned that for you. He did and planned that for all His people! He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with Him. So while you sit around your family table and ask the question of what are you thankful for… I hope you think of what He has given us -- not in material needs or health needs, but in the spiritual need that you and I both have. I know it is easier said than done to have a grateful heart with everything going on around. I hope this helps to encourage you to keep refocusing on Christ; as the devil will try to distract us from that joy that can’t be taken from you or I. That joy in the gift that is given to us in Jesus Christ dying and rising again for us! Something we can surely be grateful for this holiday season and always. I leave you again with the lyrics of this hymn to reflect. “Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son. And now let the weak say, "I am strong." Let the poor say, "I am rich.” Because of what the Lord has done for us. Give Thanks.” May you give thanks this season!
In His Love,
Jessica Tibben was installed as Director of Family Life at SHLC in December 2019. She was previously working in Denison, IA as Director of Youth and Family Ministry for the past 5 years. She loves being able to serve both youth and families and bringing them to know more about Jesus.