Our Spiritual Toolbox
   Week 6:  Gratitude & Thanksgiving


We could do a whole year’s study on this week’s scripture!  Not because it is so comforting, but rather, because we have a lot of questions, protests, and exceptions when we hear words like always, without ceasing, all circumstances, and God’s will.  The key word to pay attention to here is thanks as in thanksgiving.  Giving thanks and feeling gratitude are the tool we reflect on this week.

First, let’s talk about gratitude.  Gratitude is a popular word these days and has marketing value.  Gratitude sells journals, coffee mugs, and refrigerator magnets.  Gratitude is a feeling we experience when something good happens to us.  Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is something we do.  We give thanks.  We say thank you to God and to those around us.  Feeling grateful is wonderful, but it’s not enough when life is hard.  Hard times are when we need to practice giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is a power tool that sustains our faith in God and our love for one another.  Thanksgiving is a word of connecting and relationship.  When we give thanks, even when we don’t feel grateful, we recognize the presence, love, and connection we have with God and others.  Thanksgiving is possible even in the hardest of life’s circumstances.  We give thanks in all circumstances FOR the community of those who love and support us and FOR God’s eternal love and grace.  Of course, as we give thanks, we can’t help but feel grateful.


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  

—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


 ♦ Reflecting on this week’s scripture: 

– What words or phrases speak to you?  Is there anything here that is uncomfortable for you?
– Rewrite the scripture “journal fashion.”  Write it out phrase by phrase.  Write your thoughts, feelings, challenges, and insights for each phrase.    Be honest!  Don’t worry if you seem to go off-track.  Stream of consciousness is helpful with this kind of writing.  What do you discover?

Pay attention to the times you feel grateful this week. 
Make a list of the situations, things, and people that cause you to feel grateful.

Pay attention to the times you gave thanks this week.
Make a list of when you said thank you to God and to others.

Compare your two lists.  What do you notice?



Give me the courage to live a joyful life.

Give me the stubbornness to pray without ceasing.

Give me the openness to listen and learn in all circumstances.

Shape me into a person of thanksgiving.