If you were to ask my 7-year old daughter why she is thankful for her Daddy, she would most likely say something along the lines of, “He gives me treats!” or “He hangs out with me.” She would probably be able to think of a few more things, but those would definitely be the biggest reasons to be thankful in her little mind. That’s perfectly normal at 7 years old, but what would you think if those were still her answers at 27 or even 17?
Why would you be concerned if she was still listing simple things like trinkets, candy, or watching a movie together as the biggest reasons to be thankful for her father? Well, as a mature adult, you understand that it is the character qualities of a loved-one that you most appreciate. While you might be thankful for a gift they give you or a fun memory together, you are more thankful for their honesty, integrity, faithfulness to your family, provision, love, or specific ways that they have shown genuine care. As an adult, you even come to appreciate times your parents withheld something from you as a child. You are grateful for their consistent discipline. You are aware that it was for your good that they didn’t give you everything you wanted or let you eat candy all day long.
Do you find it interesting that it’s easy to be very immature in our thinking about our heavenly Father, though? Our first tendency in thanksgiving is to focus on the temporal gifts that He gives, and we are even tempted to rate or define His love based on what He is currently giving or withholding from us. It is perfectly right and important to thank God for His good gifts of provision, family, and even small comforts. But, do you find yourself being more thankful for those gifts than God’s character, His discipline, His salvation, or His eternal purpose for you? When was the last time that you thanked God for His holiness or the fact that He is a Trinity? Have you thanked Him recently for withholding felt needs in order to grow your faith and love for Him?
During the month of November, it is a common practice to step back and practice gratitude. What a wonderful habit! I encourage you to dig a little deeper this November and focus on the Giver of all good gifts Himself instead of just His temporal gifts to you. Choose a different attribute of God each day of the month to focus on and meditate on that truth throughout the day. You will find that you can enjoy God’s other gifts even more as you spend more time praising Him for who He is, the source of all hope and joy.
If you’d like to try this practice out, but you are not sure where to start, I’ve created a simple resource in three different formats to help. The first is a full-color short devotional, the second is a beautiful boxed set of daily devotional cards, and the third is the downloadable version of these same cards you can print at home. Both the books and the printable cards come in both KJV and ESV Bible versions, while the boxed card sets come in KJV.
Each day you will be given a short prayer of thanksgiving for an attribute of God, a work of God, or a purpose of God for you along with Scripture passages to read and meditate on. You will also find prompts to help you with your praise, thanksgiving, and confession to Him. You will be practicing breathing in His truth and breathing out your praise.
Click the images below to access one or more of these resources. I pray that they will be a blessing to you and that they might help reshape your thinking on thanksgiving.