Do you watch the news? Doomscroll X (formerly Twitter)? Between the talking heads shouting at each other or the countless heartaches I’m sure you could list that are much closer to home, some days it’s hard to find anything to be thankful for.
Your neighbors are probably a lot like you. They work hard, they worry about their jobs and paying bills, they hope their kids make good choices, they take care of ailing loved ones … but many of them do all of this without hope.
But, brother or sister, we who have Christ have so much to be thankful for because we have been given hope! We have also been given a mission by a great and wonderful God to share the hope we have in Christ with the people around us. This Thanksgiving, help children cultivate an attitude of gratitude and also practice sharing God’s glorious hope with your neighbors.
Getting in the Right Headspace
When instructing the Christians at Philippi on how to deal with anxiety, Paul wisely told them to “always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things” (Phil. 4:8 NIrV)
Work together with children to create a list of things your family is thankful for. You could do this while you talk over everyone’s day at the dinner table, driving in the car to sports or dance practice, or even for a few minutes before saying goodnight. It doesn’t have to be done all at one time, either. Just start making the list.
If someone had a good day, write on the list what made the day so good. If you laugh together over something silly, write down what you were laughing about. If you read a verse, hear a sermon, or listen to a song that spoke to you, write that down, too. Just start making the list.
Pretty soon, you are going to be overwhelmed at the goodness of God in your life and the life of your family. Every good day, every laugh, every sweet word. Even every breath. It’s all a gift and a reminder that we are loved and cherished by our heavenly Father.
“Every good and perfect gift is from God. This kind of gift comes down from the Father who created the heavenly lights. These lights create shadows that move. But the Father does not change like these shadows” (James 1:17).
The Prayer Is the Work
As mentioned earlier, you have people in your community, in your neighborhood, who are struggling right now. They may not show it on the outside — or maybe they do! — but the hopelessness and anxiety is ever-present for them.
Sometime this month (Thanksgiving is a great reason to do this), make a card as a family that includes a few of those reasons you found to be thankful. Include a Bible verse or other wording that shares why you have a reason to hope. Pray together for God to show you through the Holy Spirit to whom you can give the card.
When God shows your family who should receive the card, don’t delay! Take it to them, maybe with a plate of cookies or small, cheery plant (or maybe just a hug!), and tell them you are thinking about them. And then go home and pray for them some more.
The prayer is the work, and you can watch what God will do with your small offering. And I think we all know God can do amazing miracles with tiny offerings! (Check out John 6:1–14.)
Don’t let this Thanksgiving slip by without reminding yourself to be thankful and teaching it to your children. And please don’t miss a chance to share gospel hope with others!
“Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.”
—“Count Your Blessings,” Johnson Oatman Jr., 1897
Sarah Murray is the design editor for children’s resources at WMU.