Man Wearing Red Sweatshirt and Black Pants Leaning on the Wall

Welcome to the Thanksgiving season as we enter the month of November. The weather has definitely cooled over the past several weeks here in Georgia and for that I’m thankful. 

Around this time each year, I begin compiling a list of things for which I am grateful. In thinking about getting a jump-start on my “thanksgiving list” this year, I found myself particularly uninspired. “Eh, it’s a list. I make one most years. Most years have pretty much the same thing on it so why re-invent the wheel each time every year,” thought I. Then I was reminded by an author about the connection that exists between joy and developing a gratitude habit. “Well, I could use some more joy in my life, so why not?” This rekindling of my perspective on gratitude has lent itself to a different way of thinking about selections on my list. Rather than merely writing down an item, I’m requiring myself to use the rough formula “I’m grateful for_____ because______.”

I’ve found I have to invest more time and energy into the items I’m writing down, because I have to answer the “why” question behind each one. Although it has made the development of my list more time-consuming, I’ve found it to be a rich reflection on the blessings of God in my life. I’ve even found it possible to write the same thing more than once and have it count for different things, because the “why” is different. This reframe on a beneficial tool for this season encourages and enlivens joy. We are better equipped to be grateful for both the big and little things with which God has blessed us. 

As we consider what things to be grateful for, I appreciate the following excerpt from a devotional I’ve been reading, because it affords a potential glimpse into what God is doing in my life and the world at large:

“God has plans for us. Those plans give God great joy. The heart of those plans is this: to make you whole and holy, by His love. Whole, and holy—this is what you ache for. At least, you ache for the wholeness part. The holy part seems optional. But you will soon see why it is not. Whole and holy—this is your destiny. Once the truth of it seizes you, you’ll run around the house whooping at the sheer promise.” (Restoration Year, by J. Eldredge for October 1st)

As I’m reading this, I’m refreshed by the thought that God has a purpose behind both the mundane and the sublime things going on in my life. The morning commute where I’m running behind might actually be God’s way of cultivating a better grasp on patience. Training my children might actually be fertile ground for considering how and in what ways God has been training me recently as well. God is up to something, friends. We may not always see it, but it is happening nevertheless. 

So as we each prepare for this Sabbath, let’s take time to be thankful for whatever God is up to in our lives. An additional challenge for us then becomes this: Can we see what God is doing in our lives, or are we consumed by the difficulty or issue in and of itself? Or perhaps we haven’t even asked God what He’s up to (whole and holy). If not, I’d encourage you to do that this Sabbath. 

Grateful With You.