Are you struggling with not feeling grateful this Thanksgiving? You’re not alone. This year has been absolutely miserable for so many people. Lost jobs, virtual schooling kids while working your 9-5, and still the struggle to get dinner on the table. But worse because store shelves were empty and we were scared to go shopping!
As Thanksgiving approaches, my Facebook feed is filling up with grateful posts. You’ve seen them- every day for the month of November people post something they are thankful for.
It’s a great idea but sometimes it’s hard. Seeing what other people are thankful for can make us jealous or feel inferior. It can lead us into the comparison trap and make our pain more intense.
Being grateful for a pumpkin spice latte can seem shallow when your life is characterized by trials. The little things can be like salt on a wound when your heart is hurting.
So what do you do when you can’t bring yourself to be grateful, when no amount of little things you eases the ache?
Look beyond the things of this world if you’re not feeling grateful.
As we move through November I’d like to challenge you to look beyond this world. As I’ve been studying God’s goodness over the last few years, I have come to understand His sovereignty and goodness over arches everything. We can find God’s goodness in both the enjoyable good things and the bad things that produce spiritual growth within us.
As we move forward into the week of Thanksgiving let’s be intentional and put our focus beyond the insignificant things of this world and be grateful for the things God has done for us. To overcome not feeling grateful, we need to remember. It is exactly what the Lord commanded the Israelite people to do when they crossed over into the promised land after wandering 40 years in the desert.
We can find inspiration from the Israelites’ crossing the Jordan.
In Joshua 4 we read the story:
And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
God commanded the Israelites to remember what He had done for them.
The Israelites were finally ready to leave the wilderness and take possession of the promised land. The 40 years of desert wandering was over. God re-created the miracle of the waters separating allowing safe passage through the Jordan River for this second generation. The people had no doubt grown up hearing their parents talking about their escape from Egypt when God parted the waters of the Red Sea but those who had witnessed the miracle had died. Now they got to witness the miracle first hand. God brought them safely to the other side by parting the Jordan river, just as He had done for the previous generation.
Then God asked them to go back and get 12 stones, one for each tribe, to make a monument. God wanted them to remember what He had done. The reminder was not just for them. The monument would double as a reminder to tell their children and keep the memory of the miracle alive.
Depending on the perspective, crossing the Jordan could be remembered as both good and bad. God brought them safely across, but they had all grown up in the hardship of calling the desert their home. God had delivered them and kept his promise but he had administered painful discipline. The people entering the promised land were living their parent’s discipline. There are as many bad and unpleasant parts to their story as there are good parts.
God called the Israelites to remember, to give God the glory, and to tell the story to future generations. God wanted them to remember the bad parts, too.
As we reflect on gratefulness in this Thanksgiving season, let’s remember and be grateful for God’s goodness. 2020 was a difficult year, no doubt about it. But His goodness is there even in the bad.
Remember the ways God has shown His goodness to you.
If you’re finding yourself not feeling grateful this Thanksgiving, remembering the ways God has shown His goodness to you is the one thing you can do to recover a grateful heart.
Let’s use the story in Joshua 4 this Thanksgiving to remember how God has shown His goodness to us. I bet we’ll find enough to fill our Facebook feed this coming week.
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