“ …and forget not all His benefits.” –Psalm 103:2
“Blow, blow thou winter wind”, Shakespeare said. “thou art not so unkind as Man’s ingratitude. Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky. Thou dost not bite so nigh as benefits forgot.”
“Benefits forgot.” Now, I especially like that, because it reminds me that gratitude is at least as mental as it is emotional. So we’re called, per the scripture from Psalms above, to remember God’s benefits,
“remember” being a deliberate act of the mind.
You can do that whether you feel all warm and gooey with gratitude today, or stressed and overwhelmed. Remembering is an act of Thanksgiving.
If you ask me to feel grateful today, that may or may not happen. Not because life is terrible for me by any means – I have so much more good than I’ve earned, and not a fraction of the bad I deserve – but while my life is unquestionably blessed, it’s also stressful, for reasons similar to yours. Not enough time, never enough energy, don’t get me started on money, too many loose ends here there and everywhere, the weird things people do, and the weirder things I do. All of which means I’m more than a little overwhelmed by too much coming too quickly, sometimes leaving me feeling more drained than delighted.
Yet I’m told in the Word to be thankful, remembering God’s endless benefits, and if ever it would be hypocritical to stuff myself while remaining unthankful it would be tomorrow, when the very word “Thanksgiving” will be on everyone’s lips.
So I want to do it right, feeling great if great feelings come, but remembering His benefits no matter what I feel. More than ever, I see that means being willing to turn my thoughts to the truth, which is, of course, that God is now and forever indescribably good. A few ways I can keep that truth before me tomorrow:
- Before all the hoopla starts, I can set aside time for personal, focused prayer and reflection. I can remember His goodness, and seriously consider where my life would be were it not for His mercy and provision. That alone will do the trick; at least, it should.
- By doing that, I can avoid insulting Him with the proscribed 20 second blessing before digging into the turkey. Instead, I can insure that He’ll have been thoroughly and individually thanked by me beforehand, and it won’t just be for the food.
- I can see to it that by the end of tomorrow’s evening, I’ve put concerted effort into first mentally recognizing, then verbally expressing, God’s indescribable goodness. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” Psalm 107:2 tells us. Tomorrow, I can say my “so,” loudly and regularly.
- I can look for opportunities to laugh, enjoy my awesome family who’ll be warming up my home, feast, laugh more, then repeat. If it’s not fun, it’s not Thanksgiving.
That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway, and it will start with me simply remembering the good hand of my God upon me since 1971 when I first came to know Him. Then I’ll give that “forget not all His benefits” thing a shot, though I know that counting all of them, much less remembering all of them, is beyond me. That’s OK, it’ll be a joy trying.
I sure hope this Thanksgiving is everything, for you, that it should be. God bless you and your family. As a friend and a reader of this blog, you’re on the list of things I am truly grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving.