Families who give thanks together enjoy the blessings of a gratitude-filled home. These blessings outlast the Thanksgiving holiday and overcome the challenges of any given year. When families learn to cultivate thankful hearts day-to-day, these five attributes will also find their way into the home:
GRATITUDE CULTIVATES CONTENTMENT
One of the surest ways to combat consumerism, to overcome the temptation of materialism, abstain from coveting what your friends have, and to avoid complaining, is to become a thankful family. Thankful families spend more time giving thanks for the blessings they do have instead of chasing the things they don’t.
They cultivate gratitude in their hearts and homes, which leads to the sort of contentment Paul wrote about in Philippians 4 when he said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).
GRATITUDE CULTIVATES HUMILITY
Gratitude is a constant reminder that all we need comes from someone else. We are not the ultimate ones providing for our families. God is. We give thanks to the Lord, recognizing our dependence upon Him. What a humbling recognition!
Pride flees from the heart of gratitude, and humility settles in right next to thanksgiving.
GRATITUDE CULTIVATES JOY
Families that spend time counting their blessings will quickly see that joy follows gratitude. Even on the days when joy seems elusive, when there doesn’t seem much opportunity to rejoice, a time of thanksgiving can beautifully remind us that we are still blessed. We still have reason to give thanks, reason to rejoice, and these reasons can fill us with joy.
We see this relationship between gratitude and joy when Paul calls us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” (Phil. 4:4), and then immediately follows this command with a plea to fill our prayers with thanksgiving.
When our prayers are thankful, our hearts are joyful.
GRATITUDE CULTIVATES PERSEVERANCE
There are several Scriptures that call the followers of Christ to maintain a heart of gratitude, no matter what. Paul expresses this at least twice, writing, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18) and “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
What a challenge! For many families, this might even seem impossible. How can we be thankful in all circumstances when some of those circumstances are tragic? How can our prayers be filled with thanksgiving for everything when that “everything” includes heartbreaking loss? How can we celebrate Thanksgiving when we have lost loved ones, battled sicknesses, suffered unemployment, struggled in our marriages, and fought with our children? What’s there to be thankful for in these circumstances?
And yet, there again, we find the Biblical call to give thanks. And, we find biblical examples of families who gave thanks in the midst of suffering, loss, mourning, grief, and persecution, and, by maintaining this spirit of gratitude, they cultivated perseverance through the storm. As they grieve and mourn, they also worship, and the Lord carries them through.
In the Old Testament, a man named Job loses everything. His seven sons and three daughters all died and he lost all he owned. Even still, from this pit of despair, he persevered, because he maintained a level of gratitude and praise, worshipping God: Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-21)
Another example of gratitude encouraging perseverance is found in the New Testament when Paul and Silas are bound in prison. Paul and Silas were not having a good day. There does not seem much occasion for thanksgiving. They were beaten with rods, inflicted with many blows, and thrown into prison with their feet fastened in the stocks. And yet, they persevere, for they never stop worshipping. They had cultivated gratitude that continued to overflow even out of their jail cell: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
GRATITUDE CULTIVATES WORSHIP
We’ve all heard it said that families who pray together, stay together. Let us also say, families who give thanks together, worship together. Giving thanks to God is worship and, therefore, a family who sets out to cultivate a home of gratitude will immediately find they have also encouraged a home of worship.
These are the families that see the grace of God reaching the hearts of their home that, “causes thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
So this Thanksgiving, let us enjoy gratitude-filled homes and we will quickly discover the added blessings of contentment, humility, joy, perseverance, and worship.
Jonathan Williams is the founder of Gospel Family Ministries. He is also the author of Gospel Family. Jonathan enjoys this ministry alongside his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Gracie, Silas & Elijah. With a heart for families and the church, Jonathan also serves as the pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.