The Power of Practicing Thanksgiving

My wife Diann told me she had just completed 1,000 days of finding reasons to be thankful, a different reason for each day. Doing the math she figured it took her about three years. The idea was suggested by Ann Voskamp in her book, One Thousand Gifts.

Voskamp’s book is subtitled: A Dare to Live Fully. It’s a good subtitle! We live more fully when we regularly practice thanksgiving. Giving thanks often doesn’t come naturally or easily. That’s why, I suspect, Ann Voskamp says it’s a dare to do so. Are we willing to take the dare every day to be thankful?

Thanksgiving Day is such a wonderful holiday in the United States because it’s an annual reminder to practice thanksgiving. Hopefully, the day after Thanksgiving we’ll still find reasons to give thanks, and the next day, and the day after that, until next Thanksgiving Day.

Practicing thanksgiving (and it does take practice) gives us the power to live fully. And what kind of power does it give us to live full lives?

Thanksgiving gives us the power to love God more. How can we feel close to God if we’re ungrateful toward Him? It’s not that He needs our gratitude to feel valued; God is self-sufficient in all ways. It’s we who have the need to be grateful toward Him for who He is to us and what He does for us.

Thanksgiving gives us the power to love others well. When we express gratitude toward others they feel better about themselves and better about our relationship with them. When we make the effort to be grateful toward others we have greater affection for them. All the way around, expressing gratitude toward others builds and deepens relationships.

Finally, thanksgiving gives us the power to be positive, hopeful, and faith-filled when circumstances are such that we could easily be the opposite. It helps us see the silver lining in the dark cloud, that the glass is half full instead of half empty!

Yes, there’s power in counting our blessings and giving thanks. The first verse of an old hymn, Count Your Blessings, written in 1897, goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Practice the power of thanksgiving! There are plenty of reasons to give thanks to God and to others. Let’s start adding them up; let’s just do the math!

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds”  Psalm 9:1

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