The Wellness of Thanksgiving
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
On the fourth Thursday of November, we come together with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving: A national holiday that honored the early settlers and Native Americans who also came together to have a historical harvest feast. As we fast forward to modern times, we still celebrate our blessings and give thanks with those around us. But as we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, we are often reminded of our losses throughout the year and throughout life. Those missing from around our table are blatantly obvious. Maybe what was, or could have been, is apparent, and all of this becomes emotionally taxing. The season can become challenging, and for lots of reasons. As we advance into the thanksgiving holiday, may you be comforted in knowing that our Lord knows your pain and that you can find refuge and rest in Him.
Nahum 1:7 declares that “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in Him.”
There is scientific research to better understand the concepts of thanksgiving, just as iron sharpens iron, gratitude breeds gratitude. At Harvard University, the psychology of gratitude is analyzed, and proven that those who practice gratitude are greatly associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, appreciate and hold onto good experiences, improve their physical, mental, and emotional health as well as deal with adversity, and build stronger, more meaningful relationships. Berkeley and Indiana University go so far as to say gratitude changes you and your brain in a positive way when your focus shifts (see links below for resources and TEDTalks on gratitude).
Finding everyday ordinary things to be thankful for opens the mind, body, and soul to seeing and finding more and more to be thankful for. This may be more difficult for those going through strenuous times, so this will look different for everyone. If you need to, start small such as gratitude for gorgeous fall leaves, morning coffee with sunrises, fresh water and heat, the friendships and family that you hold dear to you, the memories you hold dear of loved ones, Jesus and the power of His forgiveness, salvation, and our eternity in Heaven with Christ. James 1:17 declares that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Finding ways to give thanks:
- Starting a gratitude journal
- Tell your friends and family you’re thankful for them
- Spread kindness – for free
- Offer support when and how you can
- Get involved in community and church programs
- 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!”
Here at Gateway:
There are resources and support groups for supporting those working through tough situations where forgiveness and thankfulness are often the key components to healing and restoring faith.
Groups specializing in grief, recovery, divorce, foster, and adoption, and many other small groups to connect and engage:
Psalm 118:24 states, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”