This is the week that we celebrate Thanksgiving, and on Thursday many of us will spend time with family and eat more than we should. I am in Alabama this week doing that very thing, although I’m going to regulate my eating, or at least try to.
I learned about Thanksgiving in elementary school in the deep south during the 1960s. It was a favorite time of year for me as we would draw pictures about the pilgrims, study the history of this time period and my thoughts would always go to cold weather and Christmas time.
Through the years, I have learned that Thanksgiving is not only a day, but gratitude is a life style and mindset. I read a book about a year ago called The Insanity of God. This book was about Chinese Christians who were put in jail when they were found out. What struck me about the book was these Chinese Christian prisoners did not ask God to deliver them from jail, but rather asked God to give them the strength to remain faithful during the process, and they looked upon their circumstance with gratitude because they saw it as an opportunity to grow and to become more in their faith.
If you’ve ever called me and heard my voicemail message you probably know that I change it every day. However, the one message that stays constant is to remember that character is what you have left over after you persevere. So stay encouraged and fight on. Tomorrow the sun will come up. Today you have an opportunity to grow stronger in the face of adversity.
Be grateful not for the struggle but be grateful during the struggle. Grumbling and complaining will get you nowhere but persevering will lead you to be a person of character. And when you have character you will have hope during the next struggle. In fact, once you have built some emotional muscle and persevered through a struggle, you’ll look back on that struggle and it will seem easy. The next hill to climb is in front of you. Climb it with gratitude for the opportunity.
Here is a short list of the things that I am grateful for.
I encourage each of you to think about those things that you are grateful for, and to make a list. This is a lifestyle. Don’t do it not only this week but do it each and every day. Gratitude has a positive effect on your emotions. For instance, if you’re broke and need more money, don’t grumble. Be thankful for the money that you do have in your pocket.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.