By: Jennifer Thomsen
November is known as the month for giving thanks. But if we can be grateful for one month, why don’t we maintain an attitude of gratitude year-round? How can we help our girls if we aren’t maintaining a grateful spirit ourselves? We will always encounter times in our lives when bad things happen, and we just don’t feel like being thankful. We can do some things before hard times hit to help us stay thankful.
We can learn a lot from Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2. In chapter 1, we see a very distraught Hannah. Hannah wanted a baby more than anything. She did the only thing she knew to do; she went to the temple and pleaded with God. I’m not sure if few people were praying in the temple, or if it was her profound burden and emotions that made Eli think she was drunk. Eli told her to go in peace, that God would grant her request. And He did.
Chapter 2 starts with a prayer from Hannah. She proclaimed God’s goodness for 11 verses. Hannah praised God right before leaving her young son, her answer to prayer, at the Temple to serve with Eli. As a mom, my heart would have been breaking to know what was about to happen. I would be a hot mess! Not Hannah. She was thankful and took time to express her thankfulness to God.
From Hannah, we learn some simple lessons about gratitude that we can apply to our lives and teach our girls. Hannah spent time with God. When she had a problem, she took it to God. She let God see her for who she truly was. Hannah didn’t try to hide her emotions; she left it all on the altar. Hannah believed God would answer her prayers, and she put her faith and trust completely in Him.
First Thessalonians 5:16 -18 tells us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. This is nothing new. In the Old Testament, the concept of giving thanks is described over a hundred times, and thankfulness comes up 71 times in the New Testament. If thankfulness is so prevalent throughout the entire Word of God, shouldn’t we practice gratitude every day in our own lives?
Here are a few suggestions to start being more thankful:
- For each day of November, list one thing for which you are thankful. This may be a something that continues after November ends.
- One thing I started this year is a gratitude journal. I list several things a day I am thankful for. Make sure to number the list, so that at the end of the year, you can look back and see how many things you are thankful for. This list has so many possibilities. If I experience something new or extra fun, I list it. When I witness God at work in a situation, I write it down. Even everyday things I take for granted are listed, such as glasses, medicine, or even heat or air conditioning.
These suggestions will help you focus on things for which you are grateful, but what about when hard times come your way? Living with an everyday attitude of gratitude will help you, for sure, but several years ago my daughter gave me a present that helps remember good things when I’m just not feeling thankful. It’s a mason jar with craft sticks in it. My daughter started the collection by writing down things she saw in me for which she was thankful. I have added to the jar when I think of things. When I’m feeling blue, I just read as many craft sticks as needed to remind me I have so much to be thankful for. When we have the correct mind of thankfulness ourselves, we can teach and model for our students how they can also cultivate their own spirit of gratitude.
God likes for us to have an attitude of thankfulness. In Luke 17:11-19, we find the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. What a remarkable and sad story. Ten lepers were healed, but only one returned to thank Jesus for being healed. I wonder how many times I have been one of the nine who forgot to thank God for something. My wish, both for myself and you, is that you not only remember to thank God for the big and small blessings, but that you help your girls start this practice at a young age.