The Weekly Word - A Devotion for the Week of November 23
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
This year we celebrate a Thanksgiving like no other in memory. Many of us will not be able to gather around one table with extended family and friends. Some of us may feel especially lonely, isolated or disconnected from community. Others may be feeling worn out, anxious or disillusioned. Still others may be grieving the loss of a loved one – a precious life lost to the pandemic.
Gratitude might not come easily or naturally in these unusual and challenging circumstances as we struggle to make sense of this bewildering year. And yet, gratitude is our saving grace, not just in good times, but in trying times as well. As someone who endured grave and prolonged suffering, Paul spoke from a place of empathy and compassion when he encouraged the Thessalonians to give thanks in all circumstances. He understood first-hand how difficult it can be to practice gratitude when times are tough, but he also understood from his own experience that gratitude can make all the difference.
Today, two thousand years later, science proves that Paul was onto something important. Practicing gratitude, research indicates, increases our resilience and improves our physical and mental health and our overall quality of life and wellbeing.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances takes practice. For those of us inclined toward pessimism, practicing daily gratitude will require a conscious effort as we begin to retrain our typical thought patterns and form new neural pathways in our brains. But with a little effort and intention, it is possible to change the way we think, which in turn can change the way we live.
This coming week, as we join millions of our fellow Americans around the collective Thanksgiving table, let us begin a new practice of giving thanks in all circumstances. God is good, and every day He lavishes His love on us in big and small ways. Let us give Him our thanks and praise.
Gracious God, Thank You for Your love, protection, grace and goodness. Thank You for opening my eyes and ears to the many, many ways You are present in my daily life. Amen.