Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love that it’s a more simple holiday, at least for my family. All that we really do for Thanksgiving is spend time together and eat good food. I look forward to my grandmother’s potato filling all year long and am always excited when there are leftovers for me to take home! And even more than that, it’s an opportunity to pause and really think about all of the things for which I am thankful. My family has a tradition of going around the table and each person saying one thing they are thankful for before we pray and dig in to the food.

Why Thankfulness Can’t Wait

But why do so many people, myself included, wait until Thanksgiving to do that? Paul told the Thessalonian Christians to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) This applies to us today as well! This doesn’t say to give thanks one day of the year or when things are going well. It says to give thanks in all circumstances. I don’t know about you, but when I’m going through a rough time, it can be hard to give thanks. But that is when I need to do it the most and here’s why.

What Being Thankful Does

Being thankful brings me back to my relationship with God and puts things into perspective. Even when things aren’t quite going my way, there’s always something to be thankful for. The colors of a sunset, a song that speaks to my soul, the fact that I’m alive and breathing right now. If nothing else, I can and should be thankful for my salvation. The fact that Jesus gave his life in order for me to be made right with God is something that never loses its impact. Someone gave their life so that I could have the hope of heaven, and not just anyone, but the perfect Son of God. If I can’t be thankful for that, then something needs to change!

How Being Thankful Looks

So how can we express our gratitude? There are many different ways, so what’s important is finding a way that will work best for you. I’ve tried the gratitude journal that seems to be ever-popular. As someone who journaled regularly as a teenager and young adult, I thought that would be a great way to keep gratitude in the forefront of my mind each day. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to keep up with it as much as I’d like. But even just thinking of 3 things you’re thankful for first thing in the morning or last thing at night works – that’s sometimes what I do. Or singing a worship song that praises God and speaks to how wonderful he is can do the trick as well; there are many verses in Psalms that tell us to sing God’s praise. Here are just two of them:

Psalm 7:17 – I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
Psalm 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Also, looking for ways to thank another person for something they’ve done to help you or for being there for you is a great way to practice gratitude, looking beyond yourself and your circumstances to bless someone else.

So, while I will have much to be thankful for on Thursday this week, the truth is that I shouldn’t just wait to be thankful on Thanksgiving, but practice gratitude every day of every week.

How will you practice gratitude today?