Recently I asked a group to give thanks for specific things. Each took a turn sharing. Except for one, who commented, “Shouldn’t we be thankful all year round? If I state that I’m thankful for one specific thing, it takes away the value of how thankful I am about other things.”
True, we should be thankful all year round.
But it got me thinking. Why should we be thankful for specific people, places, or things? I thought about it all day while the chorus “Count your many blessings, name them one by one,” ran through my mind.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I felt this deserved some focused attention. At the end of this post, you’ll find a special thanksgiving treat that I prepared for you. A 5-Day Mini Bible Study that will help cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving all year long.
Giving thanks for specific things is the example God gave us.Giving thanks for specific things is the example God gave us.
A few weeks ago, I read Psalm 136 as part of my Bible Reading Plan. (By the way, it’s my favorite plan for reading through the Bible in a year. You can check it out here.)
Throughout Scripture, the recorders of Israel’s history constantly recounted God’s wondrous work in their lives. You may remember it best by the repeated phrase, “His love (or mercy) endures forever.”
Right off the psalm begins with:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good…
Give thanks to the God of gods…
Give thanks to the Lord of lords…
Each subsequent verse lists a specific way God provided for or how He delivered Israel from her enemies. The psalm closes with “Give thanks to the God of heaven,” bookending it with the command to give thanks.
Psalm 107 is another example of the Psalmist’s thankfulness to the Lord. He repeats “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever,” five times. And he closes it with:
Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD. (Psalm 107:43)
The Hebrew word for heed is samar, which means to to guard or protect. Ponder means to consider, or weigh carefully. He is telling the reader to remember, consider, and weigh carefully, the loving deeds of the Lord. Moreover, we are wise when we do so.
We cultivate an attitude of thankfulness by purposefully giving thanks for specific things.An attitude of thankfulness is cultivated by purposefully giving thanks for specific things.
Have you ever received a thank you note that had a message like, “Thanks for the gift you gave me. I really like it.” It falls flat, doesn’t it?
A friend once told my children, “Someone took time to think about you and what you might like. They took time to shop for you and wrap your gift. The least you can do is take a few minutes to write them a sweet note, thanking them specifically for what you received and how you will enjoy it.” I can always tell when someone took time to write a note like this to me. It shows me they are truly thankful.
I think God is the same way. Rather than starting our day with, “Thanks, God, for all my blessings,” naming them one by one forces us to slow down and think. As a spiritual discipline (or making this a regular part of our lives), this cultivates an attitude of thankfulness.
Purposefully giving thanks for specific things creates an attitude of humility.Purposefully giving thanks for specific things creates an attitude of humility.
When we say “thank you” to someone, we put ourselves in the place of receivership. Maybe we received something tangible. But we may have received the gift of someone’s time. Or the gift of their encouraging words when we were feeling low. Often we received something we couldn’t get or do for ourselves.
A thankful heart is a humble heart, and God favors the humble heart.
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6)
I do not want God opposing me. Instead, I want His favor, which begins with a humble heart. Purposefully giving thanks for specific things will move us in that direction.
If we ponder God’s goodness and realize we aren’t purposefully saying “thank you,” it might be a good idea to ponder the true attitude of our hearts.
Preparing for Thanksgiving
Although it shouldn’t be, sometimes it is difficult to list specific things to be thankful for. We can always default to “food, clothing, and shelter.” But it’s important that we ponder the good things God has done for us—and purposefully and specifically thank Him! To help with this, I have prepared a 5-Day Give Thanks Mini Bible Study. Each day focuses on one way God meets our needs. Then it gives you the opportunity to purposefully and specifically thank Him for these.
When you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive instant access to the Give Thanks Mini Bible Study, as well as my resource library. Existing subscribers will find it in my Resource Library. (If you’ve forgotten the password, a newsletter is forthcoming, and it will be in that! Or, you can send me quick email and I’ll remind you!)
Do you have other reasons we should give thanks for specific things? I’d love for you to share your thoughts—along with something specific you are thankful for.
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