Countdown to Thanksgiving by counting your blessings

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 22, 2014

Several Facebook friends count down each day in November until Thanksgiving Day by posting something specific for which they are thankful.

Last week, Jeffery, a friend who is battling cancer, wrote that he was thankful for time spent with family and friends. One day he expressed thankfulness for “people who volunteer their time to work with young kids in youth sports and activities. It’s a difficult and often thankless job.”

Other friends have posted their thanks for having hot water, clean drinking water, a warm house on a cold night, the privilege to vote, having a job, and “Jesus dying for my sins.” I agree, Becky and Kelley.

Robert, another Facebook friend, writes “Three blessings from God” every day of the year – even when he recently spent several days in the hospital.  Here’s one of his lists: A healthy heart! Power of Prayer! Going home this morning! The other day, he posted these three: Nothing can separate us from His Love! Chicken and rice. Coffee filters.

I need to ask him if he got the idea from author Ann Voscamp. Last year, I read her New York Times bestseller, One Thousand Gifts. I highly recommend it. One November, she began a list of 1,000 blessings or gifts from God. In a notebook, she began writing three things for which she was thankful every day.

Voscamp says in her book that the practice of giving thanks “is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present in His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see it.”

Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”

Ann Voscamp says, “How my eyes see (perspective) is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with Thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can’t I give thanks for everything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory.”

“And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.” She shares many of her 1,000 gifts in her book.  For example, she includes, “Mama delivering chicken soup to the back door, forgiveness of a sister, and toothless smiles.”

She writes, “Thanksgiving – giving thanks in everything – prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.”

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 17, & 18a).

A familiar hymn written by Johnson Oatman reminds us, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God hath done!” I think pen and paper helps us really count our blessings.

As Voscamp discovered, “Remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust – to really believe.” An attitude of gratitude can turn thanksgiving into thanks-living.

-Jan White is an award winning columnist.