Matney: Being thankful 365 days a year can help heal a divided nation (column)
Of all the holidays, secular and sacred, Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorites. It is an annual reminder that I have much for which to be thankful.
The old hymn says, “Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your many blessings; see what God has done.” When I intentionally start thinking about or writing down the things I’m grateful for, it brings a touch of happiness, humor, joy and so many other warm and wonderful attitudes into my life. It helps to reduce stress and worry.
Why would I not want to count my blessings?
Expressing our thanks to those who serve us on a daily basis can also bring them to the same happiness, warmth and joy we’ve experienced. When we express our appreciation to the clerk at the store, the person who held the door open for us and the friends or family members who welcome us home at the end of the day, it can trigger their thankfulness, reduce their stress and the cycle of happiness starts all over again. ’Tis the season to be thankful.
Thankfulness can also offer help and healing for our divided nation. With the Thanksgiving holiday before us, we would do well to heed the admonition of the apostle Paul:
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“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy, 2:1-2)
In these verses, believers are urged to pray for and give thanks for all people, including those in authority. Our government leaders need our prayers on their behalf so they can serve with compassion, wisdom and courage. We’re also urged to give thanks for them. We can be thankful that God loves them and has chosen them for reasons we may not understand.
If believers would do as Jesus taught and “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), our lives, our nation and our world would be a much better place.
Remembering our blessings, and expressing gratitude for them, brings joy and healing to us and to others. We’ve had parents, teachers, bosses, community leaders, spiritual mentors, strangers and many others who’ve helped us along on our journey. Let us say a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving for them.
During this upcoming annual emphasis on gratitude, which we call Thanksgiving Day, let it remind us to be thankful 365 days a year. Let us remember to express thanks to others around us and to express sincere, heartfelt thanksgiving to our benevolent Creator.
“O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.