Thanksgiving is a time we’re all supposed to be thankful. Some years, though, it’s kind of hard to feel that way. For some, this is the first Thanksgiving celebrated in decades without their spouse at their side. For some, this Thanksgiving is a lonely one spent thousands of miles away from family and friends. For some, this Thanksgiving, just like all the others, is dreaded because of the family fights and hurt feelings that come around every year. Sometimes—even at Thanksgiving—it can be hard to be thankful.
What do you do when Thanksgiving comes around and you don’t feel anything close to thankful? Here are three things I’ve found to be helpful in keeping a thankful perspective, even when there are a lot of reasons not to have one.
- Start small. Are there little things I can be thankful for? The chair I’m sitting in is actually pretty comfortable. I’m breathing air. My clothes are keeping me warm. The sunrise this morning was beautiful. When I think about it, there’s a lot of little stuff going right in my life that I miss if I don’t take the time to appreciate it.
- Then go bigger. Are there bigger things I can take note of too? My health is good. My marriage is good. My kids are doing well in school. My neighborhood is safe. My car is working. When I think about it, there’s also a lot of big stuff going right in my life right now too. I can sit and stew over all the big stuff not going right, but that can also make me miss all the good things—big good things—that are going well.
- Finish with God. If I stop to consider God, that will change my perspective on even the most difficult times. He loves me when I never deserved his love. He saved me without me even asking. He walks with me through every good and bad season of life and promises to make it all good for me in the end. He will never leave me alone. He will never stop being my Friend, my Comforter, my Guide, my Rock, and my Savior. If he has dealt with all my imperfections and given me a place in heaven forever—and if nothing or no one can change that fact, I think I’ll be okay. Even when things don’t seem okay this side of heaven.
Habakkuk was a prophet of the Lord who went through some pretty tough times. When it was especially hard to be thankful, he remembered God and said this: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (3:17-19).
Kurt Wetzel is thankful for a lot of things this year. He has an amazing wife and four precious children. He lives in one of the most beautiful places in the country. His church is starting services at a second location this month. And best of all, he’s a forgiven, loved, heaven-bound child of God.