Journey Into Thankfulness

“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer       (1906 -1945), German pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident
Thanksgiving (the holiday) is less than two weeks away, and Christmas will quickly follow. While many people spend the holidays surrounded by family who sometimes travel very long distances to be together, the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be a somewhat stressful time for others due to their particular set of circumstances. Take, for example, the black sheep in the family–and most families have one.

I ran into an article titled, Embrace the Family ‘Black Sheep’ This Holiday,” by Kristen Fuller, M.D., physician, author, and senior staff writer at Sovereign Health, published on October 21, 2015.  She writes:

The holiday season is filled with decorations, food, presents, family photos, and social and work gift exchanges. The holidays can be a fun time, full of food, festivities and gifts, but for many people the holidays can be a stressful time. Although the holiday season could be a time to celebrate friends and family, some are at a loss when family members do not get along and they feel like they have to survive the tension while sitting at the table, drinking apple cider and eating turkey. Almost every family has ablack sheep,” that one family member who is isolated because he or she is too eccentric, too smart, too outspoken or too opinionated with views not shared by the rest of the family….

Many family members who are outcasts are actually not bad people; they may have different views and values. Many black sheep are actually lovable people who are either extremely bright or creative. These family members are the ones who think outside the box and may get into a little trouble once in awhile. For example, a nephew may have gotten suspended from school for missing too many days, or the older cousin is labeled as a “party girl” because she often stays out late with her friends, or the young doctor in the family is the black sheep because of her success at such a young age. These are not necessarily bad people, and they do not deserve the black-sheep label. The holidays would not be the same without them.

For many it is not specifically the individual with the problem, instead it is the family’s perception of that person. Just like co-workers and strangers, family members will also judge each other. Instead of judging, it’s vital to find the value and good in every family member and give thanks for having that person around. Instead of shaming the black sheep at the holiday table or forcing him or her to sit at the kids’ table [if they get included at all], take a moment and be thankful for sharing a meal with loved ones for the holidays, a luxury that some people do not get to experience. (Quote source here.)

So, embrace your black sheep, families!!! They would, no doubt, be ever grateful to you if you would… 🙂 And stop treating them like they either don’t exist or their lives don’t matter just because they don’t view the world exactly like you do. We are not all made from the same mold, and that is something to be thankful for, too… 🙂

On the subject of being thankful in general, I have found, especially over the past decade, that maintaining an attitude of thankfulness is not an easy thing to do. It’s like forgiveness–it has to be revisited over and over and over again.

Here are some quotes to get us started in the right direction on our journey into thankfulness. They come from an article titled, 30 Christian Quotes about Thankfulness,” compiled and edited by the Crosswalk Editorial Staff and published on November 14, 2016 on Crosswalk.com:

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday, it’s an attitude we can practice every day. Here is the opening quote from the Thanksgiving Proclamation signed by George Washington, President of the United States of America, October 3, 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

We have freedom in this country to express our thankfulness publicly and to celebrate with others on a special day.

Here are 30 Christian quotes to ponder on thankfulness and gratitude:

1. “God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” –Elizabeth Elliot

2. “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” –Charles Spurgeon

3. “God says to give thanks in everything. That doesn’t mean you need to give thanks FOR everything. You don’t need to give thanks FOR that bad day. Or FOR that bad relationship. Or being passed over at work. Financial hardship. Whatever it is – you are not to give thanks FOR the difficulties, but rather IN the difficulties. That is a very important distinction, and one I think we often miss. Giving thanks IN everything shows a heart of faith that God is bigger than the difficulties and that He can use them, if you approach Him with the right heart and spirit, for your good and His glory.” –Tony Evans

4. “We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” –J.I. Packer

5. “No matter what our circumstances, we can find a reason to be thankful.” –Dr. David Jeremiah

6. “There are three requisites to the proper enjoyment of earthly blessings: a thankful reflection, on the goodness of the giver; a deep sense of our own unworthiness; and a recollection of the uncertainty of our long possessing them. The first will make us grateful; the second, humble; and the third, moderate.” –Hannah More

7. “If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace.” –Max Lucado

8. “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”  –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

9. “God is in control, and therefore in EVERYTHING I can give thanks – not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it.” –Kay Arthur

10. “A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” –John Bunyan

11. “In happy moments, PRAISE GOD. In difficult moments, SEEK GOD. In quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. In painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD.” –Rick Warren

12. “A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer. It stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times. No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.” –John MacArthur

13. “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” –C.S. Lewis

14. “Be thankful. God has commanded it—for our good and for His glory. God’s command to be thankful is not the threatening demand of a tyrant. Rather, it is the invitation of a lifetime—the opportunity to draw near to Him at any moment of the day.” –Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

15. “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” –A.W. Tozer

16. “Genuine thankfulness is an act of the heart’s affections, not an act of the lips’ muscles.” –John Piper

17. “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.” –Corrie ten Boom

18. “Let us thank God heartily as often as we pray that we have His Spirit in us to teach us to pray. Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.” –Andrew Murray

19. “It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” –Tim Keller

20. “When we choose thankful prayer over wallowing in anxiety and worry, we are demonstrating an unwavering trust in God.” –Priscilla Shirer

21. “A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord. Thank God in the midst of trials and every persecution.” –Billy Graham

22. “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” –G.K. Chesterton

23. “’Gratitude’ comes from the same word as freedom (gratis = free). Gratitude is the freeing expression of a free heart toward one who freely gave.”  –Ravi Zacharias

24. “Gratitude produces deep, abiding joy because we know that God is working in us, even through difficulties.” –Charles Stanley

25. “Edwards [Jonathan Edwards] calls the deeper, primary form of thankfulness ‘gracious gratitude.’ It gives thanks not for goods received, but for who God is: for His character — His goodness, love, power, excellencies — regardless of favors received. And it’s real evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life.” –Chuck Colson

26. “Yes, give thanks for ‘all things’ for, as it has been well said ‘Our  disappointments are but His appointments.’” –A.W. Pink

27. “Gratitude is a decision of the will, and if a decision of the will, the choice resides squarely with us. Deciding to be thankful is no easy task. It takes work.” –Chuck Swindoll

28. “To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.” –Thomas Merton

29. “I’m just thankful for everything, all the blessings in my life, trying to stay that way. I think that’s the best way to start your day and finish your day. It keeps everything in perspective.” –Tim Tebow

30. “If there was ever a secret for unleashing God’s powerful peace in a situation, it’s developing a heart of true thanksgiving.” –Lysa TerKeurst  (Quote source here.)

If that doesn’t get us started well on our journey into thankfulness, nothing will… 🙂 I’ll end this post with a few of the many verses found in the Bible on being thankful: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus; and 2 Corinthians 9:11You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us…

Your generosity . . .

Will result in . . .

Thanksgiving to God . . . .

YouTube Video: “Whenever God Shines His Light” by Van Morrison:

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