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You would think giving thanks would come easily and naturally but, for me and I suppose others, it often times doesn’t. So, with the season of Thanksgiving upon us I thought I’d write this little guide for my benefit and hopefully for yours.

Give thanks for the good things

This is the easy one. Even the most callous person feels at least a twinge of gratitude when something good happens. Nevertheless, let this be a reminder that we need to pause and give thanks for the good things in life like the new job, the financial windfall, the new baby, the fabulous vacation, the mended relationship, the restored health, and all the special joys and victories that give life that extra sense of joy and happiness.

Give thanks for the ordinary things

This is a little more difficult, but it would be a shame not to recognize all the simple beauties of life. Give thanks for those things that we often take for granted. Those small gifts that sometimes get overlooked. Things like a beautiful fall day, a sunrise or sunset, good meals, steady friendships, warm houses, good health, reliable jobs, and all the common and familiar joys that show up day after day.

Give thanks for the hard times

This is certainly difficult, but not impossible. We often dismiss hard times as simply curses and misfortunes. Not to minimize the hurt and pain caused by these hard times, but it is in troubling circumstances that we sometimes experience growth and maturity that would elude us if not for them. Wisdom, endurance, and strength are often the byproducts of tragedy but only if we seek them. Giving thanks for the hard times may take time and should not be forced upon those in the throes of grief, but with the passing of time perhaps we can see how the hard times in life have actually formed us and shaped us into better human beings.

Give thanks for the past

Whether the present is good or bad we can always reach back into our memories and be thankful for the times that were. Memory is such a wonderful capacity we have to relive the good times of years gone by. Sometimes good memories can be even better than the actual event. It’s like a good stew which is good on the first day but seems to be even more delicious the day after. I find that memories can bring both laughter and tears, but somehow those tears bring a sense of gratitude of what was and gives me hope of what can be.

Give thanks for the future

For this one to work we need two other ingredients – faith and hope. I suppose these can be found for even the atheist and agnostic, but the real power is for those who believe in a loving God who has a good plan and powerful God who can make it happen. I believe that someday people of hope and faith will one day experience a joy that far surpasses any we have experienced in this life. We call it heaven and, even though the specifics of its wonder and glory are beyond human language, one thing we know for sure. It will be a place of endless and uninterrupted thanksgiving!

Father, we give you thanks for the special blessings of this life. We thank you also for the simple joys we experience all around us every day. Father, we thank you for preserving us through the hard times and may we in time be even thankful for how you used those to bring unexpected blessing to our lives. Father, we thank you for all the days gone by and memories of family, friends, and joys. And we give you thanks for the great hope we have of one day thanking you face to face as for eternity we shall bask in your goodness and love.

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