Thanksgiving When You Don’t Feel Thankful

5 Mins read

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many people are trying to strike the balance between focusing on what they’re thankful for while also dealing with the stress associated with the holiday season. While we often view this season as one filled with thankfulness and gratitude, it’s important to note that there are millions of people who struggle to find something to be thankful for. If you’re among that number, there are some ways that you can still enjoy this season, even if you don’t feel thankful right now.

As billions of people around the globe begin to prepare for Thanksgiving, how does the upcoming holiday make you feel? It’s easy to recognize that this holiday is one based around thankfulness, and in turn, we should be sure to spend some time showing God gratitude for the good things in our lives. However, there are millions of people who face Thanksgiving this year under clouds of sorrow, pain, loss, and fear. If you are among that number, take heart; you are not alone.

There are plenty of reasons for you to not be looking forward to this holiday. For instance, perhaps you have lost a loved one since last year, and you find yourself preparing for the first major holiday without your mother, father, grandparent, or another relative. Maybe you are still grieving the loss of a close friend, and you find yourself struggling with the idea that you’re going to spend your first Thanksgiving apart from them.

It’s also important to recognize that there are plenty of people who are still trying to navigate the choppy financial waters associated with the economic troubles that have been plaguing many of the world’s economies for the last few years. Dating back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people lost jobs, and many of those individuals still haven’t bounced back. We all know how financially stressful the holiday season can be, and now, perhaps more than ever, many people are trying to figure out how they’re going to meet their own needs in addition to wanting to provide a nice holiday season for the people in their lives.

Maybe you’re among those people who don’t know how you’re going to get through this holiday season. Whether you’re dealing with these feelings of dread due to the loss of a loved one, financial problems, or some other type of heartache, your feelings are valid. Yes, this is a season where we are supposed to focus on the blessings that we have, but it’s very easy to let the hardships of life cause us to struggle to see those blessings.

If you’re not feeling particularly thankful this year, there are some ways that you can give thanks, even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes thanksgiving is more of a task than a holiday, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t all have something to be thankful for.

Finding God’s Will
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

As Christians, finding and following the will of God for our lives is one of the most important aspects of discipleship. There are some cases in which the will of God is unique to us. Yes, the God of all creation, the One who hung the world on nothing and caused it to spin, the One who made humanity from the dust of the earth, has a unique will for your life. He has plans for you that far outweigh anything that you could ever ask or think. He has a future for you that if you follow it, will lead you to incredible blessings.

However, there are also some universal aspects to God’s will for His people. While there are multiple instances in Scripture of the Bible saying that something is God’s will for His people, this particular case focuses on God’s desire for us to be thankful people.

The will of God isn’t always easy for us. Sometimes it requires us to step outside of what we’re comfortable with. This doesn’t minimize your feelings of pain, but as a disciple of Christ, your pursuit of the will of God should be the primary focus of your life.

In the Book of Genesis, Abraham was called by God to leave everyone and everything that he had ever known. God told him that He would lead him to a new home, but God wasn’t going to tell him where he was going beforehand. Surely, Abraham was uncomfortable with the entire situation, but he still went.

If you’re not feeling thankful this Thanksgiving, it’s important to remember that God’s will for your life includes you exhibiting gratitude. This doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly going the way you want it to. However, God does see us being thankful despite our negative circumstances as a form of sacrifice and obedience.

There’s Still Something to Be Thankful For
Luke 10:20 (NLT)
“But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

In this passage, the disciples were rejoicing about the fact that they had cast out demonic spirits in another city. Their joy was quickly put into its proper place when Christ told them that they should be more thankful about the fact that their names had been written down in Heaven because of their faith in Him.

While you may not be rejoicing about some sort of spiritual victory (or anything for that matter), we can still use the second half of this verse to help us find something to be thankful for, even when we don’t feel thankful.

As a disciple of Christ, your name has been written down in the journals of Heaven. There are multiple verses that reference a book that God keeps the names of every believer in. On the day that you made a profession of faith in Christ and asked God to forgive you for your sins, God wrote your name down in His books. That is something to be thankful for.

Even if you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle in other areas of your life, you can rejoice that God had written down your name in Heaven, sealing your eternity.

It’s OK to Not Be OK
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Finally, it’s important to show yourself some grace. It’s easy for us to beat ourselves up when we’re not feeling thankful. On the surface, all of us know that we are blessed. If you’re reading this, you’re awake, alive, and have some sort of device that allows you to read a devotional on being thankful. If you’re being honest with yourself, you also realize that there are some other things in your life that you have reason to be grateful for.

Child of God, release yourself from the burden that you’re placing on yourself in your quest to be thankful. Yes, there are things for you to rejoice over, but it’s OK to not be OK. If you’re struggling to find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season, God understands. Paul wasn’t feeling thankful in the passage that we just read, but God didn’t give up on him. He won’t give up on you either.

We can bring our weaknesses and our pain to the One who loves us unconditionally. That is something to be thankful for.

A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in a lot of ways, I feel like I am just trying to get through the holiday season this year. Help me to follow Your will for my life and to be thankful in all things, even when it’s hard. In those moments where I can’t muster up that much strength, let me experience Your strength. I know that if everything else falls apart, I can be grateful that You know my name and have written it in Heaven. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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