How are we supposed to be thankful?

As we come up to the first Thanksgiving during the worst health crisis and the worst economy in a century, how are we supposed to be thankful?

Personally, I preach to myself all the time that the Bible is absolutely clear: we are to “rejoice always” and “count it all joy when we encounter various trials.” Dozens of similar verses confirm this.

Even our anxieties are supposed to be lifted to God “with thanksgiving,” not just on a holiday, but every day (see Philippians 4:6). I fall short of these commands all the time, which is why I have to preach them to myself.

How do we have an attitude of thanksgiving in a time of turmoil and suffering? I’ve never heard a better explanation than this 10-minute clip of a sermon by John Piper, the well-known pastor, teacher, and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis:

I don’t come by this deep, paradoxical view of thanksgiving cheaply. My wife and I lost our 18-year-old son 10 years ago this February. It takes time when something like that happens before you can gain any perspective. If you are in the midst of severe suffering right now, you may not want to listen to this clip.

But I’ll leave you with one more idea (I didn’t make it up, but I can’t remember where I got it): Every morning in my prayer time, I start by thinking of three things I am thankful for at that moment. I use my fingers to count because sometimes it takes a while to come up with three, and I lose count! But I always feel better as I move on into my prayer time when I have thanked God for three things.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Steve Woodworth