A quick internet search of the word “Thanksgiving” informs us that this great American holiday revolves around food, Family and football.

Many articles have been written about how best to entertain around the Thanksgiving table. Recipes have been shared to ensure a delicious, satisfying meal.

While the smell of turkey, visiting with relatives, and relaxing on the couch certainly add to the celebration, Thanksgiving is much more than watching the big game with a full stomach. It’s even more than having an attitude of gratitude.

Being thankful is about developing and expressing a sense of gratitude and cultivating this discipline on a daily basis.

On Thanksgiving Day, we are reminded to be grateful. We are reminded to be thankful for our religious and political freedom. We are reminded to be thankful that every American has the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

But what about the rest of the year? Why do we not regularly practice gratitude?

The busyness of life often robs us of being in the here and now. The fast-paced nature of our lives distracts us by keeping us focused on accomplishing our next mission.

While future missions are important, the daily act of being grateful helps to refine our character. Expressing thanksgiving slows us down, humbles us and allows us to accomplish our goals with mindfulness and integrity.

In the sacred text of the Christian faith, the Apostle Paul writes to early Christ followers about the practice of being grateful. Paul does not simply suggest to give thanks, rather, he commands it. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 he writes “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In other words, believers in Christ are to intentionally express gratitude.

Additionally, God’s word instructs us to be thankful in all circumstances.

However, we may not always feel thankful. We may come from a broken Family or simply feel alone in life. Our circumstances or life stressors may weigh us down. Yet, we can rest assured that who we are is not defined by our circumstances, neither past nor present.

God’s people are defined by his love for us which never falls short, never ends and is unconditional. God loves us exactly how we are, and yet, loves us enough to not leave us there.

He has a plan, purpose and future for each individual. It is out of this knowledge that we can develop grateful hearts and express gratitude on a daily basis in all circumstances.

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