So on this eve of Thanksgiving, it is my turn to lead the resident Bible study and the obvious subject of the day is thankfulness. However, throughout this week whether they remember or not, most of the residents have been asked on multiple occasions, “For what are you thankful?”
We recieved lots of responses of “family, friends, being alive, health, coffee and Elvis.” While these are all wonderful things and it is great to acknowledge our gratitude for them, I began to wonder if this was enough–if this was what Thanksgiving is all about.
At the risk of sounding harsh, I started thinking that these things we listed were a little to surface level–a little too easy to love. While we do run the risk of taking for granted these simple things in our daily lives, it seems to me these are the things that we should be grateful for every day–not just once a year.
I started contemplating the word “thankful” and all its connotations to me: gratitude, contentedness, being at peace, appreciation, selflessness.
What would it mean to live lives of gratitude? How would it look if thankfulness resided in our beings?
I have an incredible opportunity to supervise music therapy clinical students at a shelter for woman who have experienced domestic violence. The students chose a lyric analysis piece entitle “Grateful” by Rita Ora. In the song, the singer expressed her gratitude not for family, friends, or children but for falling, for pain, for scars, for bruises and brokenness. How in the world could someone who has experienced such heartache be thankful for the horrid situations they have faced? The artist went on to explain that those trials only made her appreciate the good in life all the more–that she would never have experience the sun in such a powerful way had she never weathered the storm.
This immense sense of gratitude immediately sent my mind to the 23rd Pslam and David’s depiction of God’s faithful protection in the “green pastures/still waters” as well as “the valley of the shadow of death.” What if we like the Psalmist were able to thank God not only for all the good things he has given and provided, but also thank him for those dark valleys and trials that befall us? What if this Thanksgiving we would not only thank him for the times of abundance (family, food, shelter) as outlined in Philippians 4:12, but also for the times of hunger and need–to thank him in “any and every situation?” I do truly hope that this season of Thanksgiving is merely the beginning of a journey of gratitude and contentedness throughout the year, throughout every circumstance (1 Thessolonians 5:16-18).
Link to song “Grateful” by Rita Ora: https://youtu.be/lMxL3_P9eNE