Last week, I had the privilege of speaking to the women in my church. I encouraged them in this season of giving thanks with a seasonal acrostic, T.H.A.N.K.S., to guide them in an intentional pursuit of gratitude.
I offer it here to help you give thanks through the thick of life’s busyness, burdens, or hardest trials.
The acrostic is simply: “T.H.A.N.K.S”
T is for Thoughts.
H is for our Hearts.
A is for Acknowledging our realities.
N is for Numbering our thanks.
K is for a Kaleidoscope of creation.
S is for Speaking our thanks.
“T” is for Thoughts
Thanksgiving starts in our thoughts. Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
I think of two types of thanksgiving when it comes to what we are setting our minds upon: changing truths and unchanging truths.
Changing truths are things like “Thank you, God, for this parking spot close to the entrance when I have a bum knee.” Or “Thank you, God that the sun is shining for our outdoor wedding.” These are awesome things to thank God for. These honor God and recognize that all we have is from His Hand. But, these are circumstances that can change, and if we end here in our thanksgiving, we may find ourselves perplexed, crushed, and even embittered when Providence is not in keeping with our heart’s desires or finite wisdom of what is good.
It’s so important that we move beyond this kind of thanksgiving because life is unpredictable, but our God is sure and steady.
Patterned in scripture is a thanksgiving rooted in “unchanging truths.” This second type of thanksgiving focuses much more on Who God is and What He has done. The character of God and the covenant of love He has established with His people through Jesus are two truths that will never change. They are truths that will ground you when facing hardships of any and every kind. They are the truths for which thanksgiving is always accessible and appropriate.
Thanksgiving starts with your thoughts.
H is for Heart
This is where many of us want things to start — in the affections. We want to feel grateful before we give thanks.
But, our affections lie, mislead, and are out of whack at any given moment for an innumerable amount of variables. We cannot rely on our emotions. We cannot wait for them in order to give thanks. We can, however, trust that as we renew our minds, our affections will eventually come in line with the truths of who God is and what He has done for us.
Sometimes this takes minutes. Sometimes this takes years.
Psalm 27: 14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.”
Often it takes time for the renewing of our thoughts to move to the heart. But it will. Press on in renewing your thoughts, trusting that God will move upon your affections in due time.
A is for Acknowledging Our Realities
Giving thanks doesn’t mean ignoring or denying hard realities. It doesn’t gloss over challenges or hardships. It acknowledges all of that while at the same time persisting in hope.
When we deny the difficulties and challenging circumstances we sometimes face in life, we diminish the opportunity for God to be magnified in the eyes and hearts of others and ourselves as He shows Himself strong on our behalf and present in our pain.
But, when we acknowledge the hard and the heavy of our circumstances while maintaining faith in God’s promises to love us, sustain us, never leave us or forsake us, we offer a genuine sacrifice of praise that honors God and inspires others.
N is for Numbering Our Thanks
Keep a numbered list of anything and everything you notice during your day for which you can give thanks.
1. A vibrantly, red maple leaf floating through the sky.
2. Your children getting along for an entire five minutes.
3. Waking up another morning.
4. A long phone call with a friend.
And so on…
K is for the Kaleidoscope of God’s Creation.
Like God’s unchanging character, we can draw upon our five senses to experience God’s creation in its many forms and give thanks for the way in which He has given us varied displays of His beauty, wisdom, and power through creation.
S is for Speaking Our Thanks
Ephesians 5:19-20 exhorts us to speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, giving thanks always. Psalm 78:4 says that “we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His powers and the wonders He has done.”
God commands us to give thanks because He knows that it will bring us the highest happiness in life. It will bring joy to others as well and will tell them Who He is and what He has done.
In closing, my prayer for you is that the thanksgiving that begins in your thoughts would move to your heart and through your fingers and lips as you learn to give thanks in the thick of it.