A Gratitude Attitude

for the week of November 20, 2000
by Rubel Shelly

The late A. W. Tozer once made this claim: "A thankful heart cannot be cynical." I suspect he is right. Living in a time so cynical as our own, it just may be that the doleful spirit of many even in a time of great prosperity and blessing has come about because of our failure to be grateful.

So I'm devoting this entire week to fostering a gratitude attitude. I resolve to obey the biblical call to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And I'll not do it just on Thursday either, but all week long.

Just to be clear about the matter, I'm going to give thanks to God. I haven't created my own good fortune. Although I owe a lot to my family, even they are not the ultimate source of my blessings. Every good gift whether delivered through country, church, friend, or family is finally traceable to God's generosity.

Maybe you've heard the apocryphal story of the fifth-grader who, when asked to tell the origin of Thanksgiving Day in America, gave this politically sensitive account: "The Pilgrims came here seeking freedom of you-know-what. So, when they arrived, they gave thanks to you-know-who. Because of them, we can now worship without fear each Sunday at you-know-where."

When you sit down with the people you love Thursday, give thanks in a specific rather than generic way. Don't simply acknowledge the vague, warm- fuzzies of a national holiday. Articulate your personal prayers of gratitude to God for his material gifts, for the important people he has put in your life, for his strength in your difficult times, for his Spirit-presence in your Christian life, and above all for the salvation he has provided through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I saw a cartoon years ago that featured a bewildered-looking fellow sitting at a Thanksgiving table loaded down with turkey, dressing, hot rolls, and all the trimmings. The caption read: "Alvin the atheist realized he was at his lowest point, for he felt grateful but had no one to thank." A believer doesn't have that problem.

So why not join with me in the resolve I shared with you earlier? In getting ready for Thursday, let's live a gratitude attitude for the entire week. Co-workers today, family tonight, people who assist you at the post office or grocery, anyone who blesses your life thank them sincerely for things that make your life better.

Who knows? Thanksgiving could become a way of life.

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