How would our families, our congregation, and our community benefit if we made a choice today to begin a lifetime of Thankfulness? To go beyond this day— Does that seem nonsense? It seems to me that we have a mandate to give praise to God by deliberately telling what he’s done for us. We can use the gospels, including Christ’s parables, but let’s not forget the impact of our personal stories.

What do you alone know that you are thankful about? A small blessing you’ve noticed and think is semi-obvious, may be just the word that frees someone else from feeling as though they receive sighing instead of food, or as though their groans of disappointment are going to flow on like so much poured water.

In these days when it is so simple to say, “What I feared has come upon me, what I dreaded has happened to me,” and “I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest, but only turmoil,” it would be a powerful thing if we shift our focus, find a different vantage point. It’s all right to start with small, mundane things. Running water in our plumbing, the casserole in the oven, and sunshine are all examples of God’s provision for us.

We still have the option to come here, to encourage one another. No one arrests us for singing hymns, or reciting the creeds.

What does giving thanks do for me? I am more aware of the vividness God put in this world he provided. My eyes are reopened. Giving thanks, speaking the words aloud, short-circuits moments of self-pity and dissatisfaction. I’m still working on my strong tendency to criticize, but I’m hoping others see some progress on that front. It may be that my life is bearing fruit. The orchardist of my soul knows.

Resuming and continuing to give thanks has also worked a change in me that echoes the lyrics in “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”: My heart is once again attuned to sing. When I focused on criticism and the things I thought were hard, I could not sing.

Giving thanks and rejoicing in all things are what make us unusual in this world. These chosen attitudes are not unrealistic—not when we know in our hearts and souls that thanks and rejoicing are not based on our circumstances. God Reigns. He is our source of peace.

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say: he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” Psalm 85:8-9.

“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” Isaiah 26:12.

“But I, with song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” Jonah 2:9.