Thanksgiving has passed, and the focus seems to have shifted instantly to presents and shopping. While it’s definitely a great thing to give to the ones you love, the true meaning of Christmas seems to slip away a little more every year. It’s so important for us as Christians to bring into focus the gifts that God has given us that can’t be bought at any price. I challenge you this year to keep a grateful heart. I want us all to dig down deep to find the things we can be thankful for that we might normally overlook. Here are some questions that really helped me.
- What troubles have you faced over the last year? Make a list. No trouble is too small to be mentioned here. They all reveal something we can be thankful for, whether it’s the people in our lives who carried some of the burden, or simply the fact that we came out all right on the other end. There’s a saying I’ve always found to be reassuring that goes “If God brings you to it, He can bring you through it.” Whenever you’re feeling anxious about a problem you’re up against, you can use this list as a reminder of all the problems God helped you through, even though you didn’t see a solution yourself.
- What decisions did you make? In many cases, we can be thankful that we have options to decide from. Think specifically about the decisions you made that someone else in the world might not have a choice about, like what college to attend, what to eat, who to vote for, whether to drive or bike to class, or even who you want to be in a relationship with. Decisions can be hard when you don’t know what path they’ll take you on, but when you start to see them as a privilege and an opportunity instead, they can really become exciting.
- Who are the people in your life? It may not seem like it sometimes, but the friends we keep are the people we’ve chosen to be a part of our lives and who have also chosen to a part of ours. That’s a huge compliment! What qualities do each of them have, and what do you love about being around them? Are there any teachers/professors you look up to or who have inspired you in some way? How about your family? Though not all families are conventional and they all have their highs and lows, we learn a lot from the people who have to witness us at our best and worst, but haven’t given up on us.
- What are your personal strengths? Some people are creative, some athletic, some smart, some funny. Some of us have strengths that maybe aren’t as obvious, like the ability to comfort someone who’s feeling down or the ability to get along with anyone. Don’t underestimate yourself, and don’t only list what you think other people know are your strengths. Nobody knows you better than yourself. Be thankful for all the individual talents God has blessed you with, and never compare your weaknesses to other people’s strengths.
I hope these questions have helped to get you thinking. Once you have a hefty list of things to be thankful for, don’t be shy! Be vocal about those things, and let the people around you start to notice. Your gratefulness could just spread like wildfire. Can you imagine what kind of effect that could have on people’s lives? Above all, let’s remember to give thanks to God for all these gifts and the ultimate gift He gave us: His son.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11)
If you have some questions that might help us reflect on our blessings, please do share them in the comments section along with the gifts you’ve been able to uncover in your own life.