There are many passages of scripture that instruct us regarding thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6-7 is a beautiful reminder of how thankfulness is a part of our finding peace from God. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, . . . will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” When we leave out an attitude of thankfulness, that promise of peace falls apart. When we pray without thankfulness, we are like ungrateful children asking for selfish gain. When we try to control our anxiety without the quality of thankfulness, we are lacking the alternative to our worry and fear.
The next verse in Philippians provides assistance for thanksgiving and a guide to counting our blessings. Instead of counting all our material blessings, allow the list in Philippians 4:8 to help us think of non-material blessings. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true . . . noble . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good report . . . any virtue . . . anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Here are some suggestions, but please don’t stop with my list. Meditate on these and beyond as we count our blessings.
WHATEVER IS TRUE: my favorite power verse, my truest friend, heaven
WHATEVER IS NOBLE, HONORABLE: my 8th grade school teacher, my pastor when I was 18, my assistant at my first Navy duty station
WHATEVER IS JUST, RIGHT CONDUCT: God’s discipline of my actions, my friend’s apology, my friend’s forgiveness
WHATEVER IS PURE: my mother’s love, the blood of Jesus, a newborn baby
WHATEVER IS OF GOOD REPORT, COMMENDABLE: expressions of generosity, words of my favorite song, the helpfulness of my neighbor
OTHER VIRTUE: a friend’s demonstration of faith during the loss of a loved one, a family member’s kind words
ANTHING PRAISEWORTHY: a beautiful day, the warmth of the sun, an inspiring sermon
Let our minds and hearts carry us on a reflective journey through our past week, month and year. In spite of all the negatives we might dwell on, there are many, many blessings we can recall. All of those blessings can inspire gratefulness, which leads to thanksgiving, which leads to praise, which leads to joy and peace. The benefits may depend upon our willingness to meditate of these things; our readiness to allow God to bring to our minds all those wonderful non-material things we enjoy because God is good. And as we recall them, let us give thanks to our Lord God. “His mercy endures forever.”