As my friends in America approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of gratitude.
One way to be more grateful to God is to appreciate and value God’s grace and goodness in our lives.
Let’s start by thinking of ordinary things that we enjoy: a cup of coffee; a smile from a baby; a display of creation’s autumn colours; a stunning sunset; or a song. On their own, these may be seen as mere background experiences in the many events that make up our lives each day. Now consider the thing that you have enjoyed, as a gift from a God who loves you. You might want to quite specifically imagine Jesus handing you that cup of coffee, creating those trees or colouring that sunset.
We read in the Bible that ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father …’(James 1:17). So once we recognise God’s gift, that ordinary ‘something’ has now become an ‘extraordinary’ gift from God.
In the Christian faith we focus – quite understandably – on the awesome truth that in the crucifixion of Jesus, God himself was purchasing our forgiveness. That is the greatest gift we could ever have and we must always be grateful for that.
Yet there are also an enormous number of other smaller things where God’s love towards his children spills over into numerous different areas and we should recognise them everywhere. So if we enjoy the beauty of a sunlit landscape, we can thank God. If we have a good meal, we can give thanks to God. Yes, God loved us in an extraordinary way 2000 years ago when Jesus died for us, but he loves us now and all the good things of life are signs of his love.
We can let big truths block out little ones, and we may be so focused on the idea that God is the supreme Creator of the universe or the One who will bring justice to the world that we overlook the truth that he is a God whose grace and love can be seen daily. His relationship with us is that of continuous, never-ending love. The cross of Christ proclaims that God is love, but that glorious truth is echoed in a million other ways.
To recognize God’s generous, loving hand behind our major and minor joys and blessings is the key to not just a Thanksgiving Day of gratitude, but a daily life of thanksgiving.
Canon J. John has been an evangelist for four decades. He has spoken in towns, cities and universities in 69 countries. As an evangelist, minister, speaker, broadcaster and writer, J.John communicates the Christian faith in a practical way. He has his own weekly TV program, which is broadcast globally, and a number of podcasts. He has written several books across a range of subjects including the ‘Theology for Little People’ series to help children understand biblical truth. J.John lives near London in England. He is married to Killy and is a father and grandfather.