15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.
Gratitude is foundational to the spiritual life. And yet, gratitude is elusive – it’s difficult to maintain.
For many of us, despite the stage fright we may feel when put on the spot at the table today, it feels easy to think about things we’re thankful for when we are gathered with family and friends. On some level, the gathering itself – the food, the laughter, the stories – is emblematic of all that’s good in life. When it comes our turn to say what we’re thanking God for, we can essentially just say, “this.” And we mean it.
Giving thanks on a random Tuesday is a bit more difficult. That’s because any random Tuesday is a lot more likely to be filled with moments that feel lonely, or frustrating, or just plain sad. And often those things that went WRONG or felt bad tend to take up so much room in our minds that there isn’t space left over to see anything good. Add up a bunch of those random Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and suddenly life doesn’t feel as good as it does on the fourth Thursday in November. We stop feeling like the thankful people the scriptures call us to be.
That’s why gratitude must go beyond a one-time-per-year event to become a regular spiritual practice. And Colossians brings together in a list some elements of our practice: study the words of Jesus. Sing praises to God. Keep Christ’s way at the front of your mind in the things you say and do. And there are lots of other ways too, like keeping a gratitude journal to remind you of what went RIGHT on any random Tuesday.
THAT’S how we become thankful people – not just on Thanksgiving but every day. Happy Thanksgiving!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
When are the moments when it’s easier for you to remember what’s good in life? How can you experience more of those moments?
Prayer: Generous, loving God: help us to be truly thankful, not just on this day, but every day. We pray that you show us how to make Thanksgiving our way of life. In Christ Jesus we pray, amen.