As a family we sit in a very different place than this time last year. And the year before that. With my husband back in a stable work environment and my cancer in the rear view mirror, we have many reasons to praise and thank God. Actually, the truth is that God deserves our thanks ALWAYS, but in my faithlessness, I forget.
If you have followed this blog for longer than a minute (thank you!), then you know my recent history of doubting God’s kindness and goodness while in the throes of painful experiences. It actually took the funeral of a two year old boy to wake me up to my own stubborn ungratefulness. The precious parents of this boy asked for the mourners at his service to sing the song “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin. Two week prior the praise band at church lead us in this very song and I refused to sing. In my heart, I didn’t feel it. And yet these missionaries (once over seas, but on this day to me) knew that our Father God is always good. They sang of this goodness with empty arms and broken hearts. And I realized I could too.
That’s what Psalm 50:14 is all about. We bring glory to God when we praise Him for His provision, even as we wonder how the bills will get paid. We bring Him glory when we thank Him for family, even with strained relationships in the picture. We honor Him when we thank Him for a life even after that life passes on. We show the world His tender mercies when we thank Him for his comfort in the midst of hard times. And we showcase His majesty when we accept His gift of Jesus with a beholden spirit.
As young parents, we started a new tradition to help us and the kids remember all God does for us (and emphasize the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday) by putting up a thankfulness tree. For many years we adorned our artificial tree with construction paper leaves and turkeys with handwritten Bible verses about giving thanks. We also wrote on them the names of the people and things for which we were most grateful. This year with my bonus son out of the house (and married with kids of his own) and both daughters firmly in their teen years, the construction paper didn’t seem quite as charming. So we decided to let our tree grow up and bought a few ornaments instead. Acorns, leaves, pumpkins and footballs now hang on the branches. But even though we changed the tree, I wasn’t ready to give up our family gratitude practice.
We now have a tabletop card holder in the middle of our kitchen table with a sharpie and blank leaves and turkeys and pumpkins. Every time we sit down to dinner as a family, we add something we are thankful for. Some days it’s easy to give thanks, and sometimes it’s a sacrifice to set aside our feelings and look at who God is. Who He has always been, through good times and bad. Because the truth beyond our circumstances is that He is good. And it’s always for our sanctification to acknowledge it.
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