Thanksgiving is almost here, and I’ve been getting my heart readyfor the celebration. While I believe that it is good and blessed tohave a list of things for which I am thankful, I’ve always aspiredto something more. I’ve always felt that a posture of thanksgiving has to go beyond my personal wish list. This year my thoughts have turned to particular people who have been a blessing to meover the years, and I’ve realized that one of the powerful ways God has blessed me is through people with a thankful spirit.
What is a thankful spirit? At first glance, that’s a hard question toanswer. But I think I can describe how to spot a person with a thankful spirit when you meet them:
- People with a thankful spirit really mean it when they say, “thank you,” for even the smallest kindness.
- People with a thankful spirit make solid eye contact.
- People with a thankful spirit are more than mere optimists. They are eager to see what’s next.
- People with a thankful spirit aren’t worriers.
- People with a thankful spirit have a sense of serenity about them when others are stressed.
- People with a thankful spirit see “opportunity” where others might see “burdens.”
- People with a thankful spirit are often smiling, and even when they aren’t, there is always a smile lurking in the background waiting to come out.
- People with a thankful spirit are comfortable in their own skin. People with a thankful spirit are generous.
- People with a thankful spirit expect God to bless them even in the most difficult of circumstances.
And the list could go on and on…
These thoughts lead to an answer to the original question – what is a thankful spirit? A thankful spirit is a fruit of faith in our loving God. The whole of Scripture carries a most significant underpinning – God loves people. All the stories, all the expressions of praise and worship, all the prophecies, all the letters between people… they all point to the simple truth that God loves people. When you let that powerful thought soak into your very being – beyond the more self-focused position of your present circumstances – the inevitable outcome is a spirit of thankfulness.
The most recent times of our lives in the Northwest District have been a time of loss. We have had to let go of some very significant things. While we shouldn’t minimize the grief that accompanies loss, it’s important for us not to stay in that place. The love of God in our Savior, Jesus Christ, calls to us. He gently and firmly encourages us to lift our eyes to what’s ahead and to anticipate the blessing of His love. He is already there in our tomorrows, and He beckons us to join Him – having our hands free to receive the next blessing He has set apart for us.
My prayer for each of you and for myself is that we might have a thankful spirit this Thanksgiving and as we make our way into a new church year. I am truly thankful to be a part of this corner of the church where I see God’s people seeking to love and to be a blessing to those around them. I am thankful for you.
Lord God, You are the foundation of our lives, and we are grateful for the way You love us. We praise You for the person of our Lord, Jesus, who is the embodiment of Your great love and mercy. We humbly pray that You would fill us with a spirit of thankfulness this Thanksgiving. Lift our eyes to see Your fingerprints on our lives in all things – those things which we enjoy and those things which challenge us. Send to us Your Holy Spirit that we might grow to trust You in all circumstances and anticipate Your blessing. We thank You for one another, and we pray that together we might truly reflect Your love to the people around us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
God bless you with a thankful spirit.
Rev. Dr. Paul A. Linnemann