Have you ever sat down to write out a list of all that you are thankful for? A list of all the people, places, things, and experiences that make your life better? If you have ever tried to make such a list and taken the task seriously, then you know what an exercise it can be. Sure, it’s a test of memory; but more than that, it’s really an indication of how aware we are of the blessings we have received from God.
Christians say that every gift we have, whether relationships or things, comes from God’s own hand. That idea runs counter to our culture’s assumption that we deserve whatever we earn and can hold on to. Thankful people, however, are not focused on ourselves and what we can call our own; but, thankful to God for everyone and everything.
Several Psalms are about giving thanks to God. Leaf through a hymnal and note how many of the hymns are about being thankful people. Even our prayers before meals or bedtime are words of thanks for food prepared and received or rest that awaits the weary.
As a spiritual discipline, try writing out your list. Put down the names of people, places, and experiences for which you want to give thanks to God. Then spend a few minutes in silence with that list. You may be surprised by how full it is and how much the Thankful List will mean to you. Then put it away in a safe place where you can go back to it whenever you need.
And if you followed this simple reflective exercise last November, compare your 2016 list with your new one. Notice any changes? You may find, as others have done, that this simple spiritual practice will do much to revive your sense of genuine thankfulness.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Gary S. Eller
President, Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation