Finding Joy in Thanksgiving

Originally published Thursday, 28 November 2013.

There seems to be a direct correlation between the level of joy we experience and our level of thanksgiving. And I’ve come to believe being thankful is something we must deliberately purse.

After reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I came to realize that we must fight for joy through deliberate recognition of God’s grace upon our lives. Ann encourages others to begin to list each and every grace, or gift, seen in our lives and in the world around us.

We must list our gifts so we might properly recognize them.

You see, we live in a broken, sinful world––there is much darkness to be seen. And it seems the darkness––with all that is wrong in and around us––is sometimes much easier to recognize than the light. But light shines ever-so-brightly upon every one of usIt's there––always present, but in order to recognize it, we must train our eyes to see.

I began listing God’s grace, even before reading Ann’s book, in a journal I titled “Evidences of Grace.” In it, I recorded anywhere I saw God’s fingerprint in my life. I have to say, it was a good start. But while reading One Thousand Gifts, I realized there was so much more to see. I had only just begun to recognize grace. I had only been looking for the favor of God upon me––as if I existed in my own special little bubble––but what about all the grace God continually pours out all around me? The grace that bring beauty into this world and into each of our lives? What about His creation? What about all the beauty that surrounds our wonder-full existence?

Shouldn't those be recorded? Numbered, even?

Have you ever reveled at the thought of who you are before God? That you are chosen, precious in His eyes, and loved beyond comprehension?

Have you ever taken notice of the rainbow-affect on the surface of a bubble?

Of the intricate and delicate construction of a falling snowflake? Or how it glimmers like pixie dust when the sun’s rays shine on it through parted clouds?

Of the joy––pure joy––upon the countenance of children playing in rain puddles or falling snow?

Have you ever wondered why children seem to have an intense sense of wonder that is lost on most adults? Have you noticed their eyes dance in amazement at simple, little things we take for granted?

We are all intended to come to Jesus like this––as a child.  To have child-like faith. To see wonder all around us. To slow down enough to notice what is right before us. And to stand in awe of the One who created it all for His glory and our joy.

This, I believe, is the key to experiencing life to the full. To relish in the grace of God––the favor He continually pours upon us.

I have to be honest, though. There are times I forget to be thankful. Times I forget to see. Oh, how quickly we lose sight of God’s favor. How quickly we forget to number the ways we are lavished with His grace.

If only we could just see. Continually.

I believe each one of us must be trained to see. We must become deliberate pursuers of thanksgiving by choosing to intentionally look for and see the many gifts surrounding us.

So this thanksgiving, I'd like you to choose to see. Pray that your eyes be opened to all grace––in, through, and around your life. Number the ways God has been good to you. Recount His deeds. His creation.

Today, set aside time to begin a journal. Begin counting the gifts you’ve been given because, after all, everything is from the Lord. And all is grace, even that which appears to harm us will ultimately be used for our good. So count them. Count them today, tomorrow, and every day henceforth––giving thanks to the One from whom they’ve been given. To the One who loves you immeasurably more than you will ever conceive.

Let us practice thanksgiving. Let it not be something we think about merely one day each year on Thanksgiving Day, but let us become a people known for our thankful hearts. For just as Ann Voskamp says, thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.

With thanksgiving comes joy, and I am convinced that if you will deliberately pursue a thankful heart, you will begin to experience joy like never before.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!