Living a life of thanksgiving has the power to fight anxiety, worry, depression, ingratitude, and discontentment. I also believe thanksgiving has the power to build your faith, and when your faith is greater than your fear and doubt, what can stop you? To live a life aware of God and all he has given you, even in the hard times, is a place I long to be. Free from bondage with eyes fixed on Him, serving and loving those around me, and prepared for the battle that Satan sets before me, knowing full well I am equipped with the armor of God.
This is why I chose this discipline to practice this month. Although I feel freedom from anxiety and depression, my weakness is to step back into the lies of worry and darkness when life gets hard. I know that Thanksgiving is the best defense against anxiety, so my desire was to practice this discipline and learn how to live a life of gratitude… fully aware and thankful for God’s presence in my life.
To live a life aware of God and all he has given you, even in the hard times, is a place I long to be.
At the beginning of the month I sat before the Lord and asked him to show me how to practice thanksgiving. I know that sounds silly, but I wanted Him to show me the way. I begged him to speak to me through His Word and show me the truth about living a life of thanksgiving. I asked him to help me fight the lies from the enemy that bred discontentment in my life. I asked him to equip me to fight the sin of ingratitude and remember all that He has provided. I clung to the truth that He. Is. Good. Period. Even when life was hard, didn’t make sense and He didn’t explain why, He was good.
So what does God’s word say about thanksgiving?
Psalm 95:2 – “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Colossians 3:15-17 – “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, signing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The theme that I see over and over in scripture about thanksgiving is to practice it constantly, in all circumstances. Be thankful, with your whole heart. Live a life of thanksgiving.
I clung to the truth that He. Is. Good. Period. Even when life was hard, didn’t make sense and He didn’t explain why, He was good.
So how did I do this? First of all, I worked on committing these scriptures to memory. We all know that hiding God’s word in our hearts is never a bad thing, and I know that if the whispers of fear creep into my mind, I have these verses tattooed on my heart and mind to help me when I need to fight.
Second, during my quiet time I would take a moment to jot down some things that I was thankful for that morning. Some examples were:
- Health care: the germs have been in full force this winter and if we didn’t have insurance our lives would be so much harder.
- Sunshine: Our valley needs the rain, but the beauty and energy that a little vitamin D can bring is sometimes just what I need.
- My daughter Ava: her vibrancy, her joy, her laughter, her stubbornness, her life, her health… just her presence in my life.
- Rest: sometimes a nap is just what I need to not be a monster the remainder of the day.
Beginning my day with thanking the Lord for all he has provided was a great way to set the tone for the rest of the day. I noticed that when I did this I would find myself noticing more things to be thankful for throughout the day. This practice helped protect me from the lies of discontentment. When I looked around my proverbial garden and all that God had provided, I stopped focusing on the “one tree” he asked me not to touch. I stopped noticing all of the things I didn’t have, and instead was thankful for all that I do have! Oh sweet freedom!
Live a life of thanksgiving.
Although thanksgiving does take some practice, I encourage you all to take some time and ask God to give you a heart of thankfulness. There is a reason “with thanksgiving” is mentioned so much in the scripture, and when we take the time to slow down and acknowledge God’s presence in our lives, how can we not respond with anything except thanksgiving? May we be a generation with grateful hearts, fully humbled and submitted to the father, overflowing with love and thanksgiving.
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Image Credit: Stephen McLeod Bythe, Creative Commons