November. Gratitude month. Thanksgiving day. Being from the UK and now living in South Africa, I don’t have the long tradition of seasonal gratefulness. I’ve seen it depicted in Hollywood movies but haven’t felt personally connected or involved.
That’s begun to change as I now have an American mom-friend. Each November, Stephanie undertakes thirty days of gratitude. She shares what she is particularly grateful for; her family ‘grow’ a gratitude tree from sticks and paper leaves upon which are transcribed intentional moments of thankfulness.
My friend challenges me; I rarely list all that I am grateful to God for. And yet, in a quick concordance-count of the number of times the word ‘thanks’ appears in the Bible, I find 110 instances. Thanks are given for God’s goodness, for His provision, for His protection. Thanks are given abundantly, loudly, untidily, continuously. Thanks are given to God as Lord, as Father, as Healer, as Saviour.
As I write, the sky has darkened over the sea, thunder grumbles in the distance and rain is beginning to fall. Where I live, we have barely any rain during winter and by the time we reach November, everywhere seems a little dried-up and weary. Furthermore, South Africa is experiencing the worst drought in living memory. Lakes have dried up, leaving behind gaping cracks and starving livestock. Nationwide prayer meetings have been held to implore God to forgive and be merciful, as the book of Chronicles suggests.
So, when I look out and see the horizon shrouded by grey streaks of falling rain, I’m immensely thankful. Gratitude rises like the sweet fragrance of freshly doused vegetation, incense to a God of mercy and kindness.
The rain stirs me to be thankful more often, to notice the many simple, taken for granted gifts; I wake in the morning with breath in my lungs and health in my bones; I have a car to drive on a well-paved road as I take my children to their amazing schools. My husband has a job when many don’t. We have food on the table, and in the fridge and in the cupboard.
After prolonged dryness, the blessing of rain reawakens life that has lain dormant. So it can be with our souls. In Hosea 3:6 the promise is given that the Lord ‘will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” My heart often needs the tenderness of these rains, needs to be softened by the showers of God’s presence and restored to life by the whisper of His Spirit.
I am so grateful that our God waters the earth when it is most in need; I am even more grateful that He waters my heart when I don’t even realize it is dry.
Happy Thanksgiving. Today and every day!
I wrote this article around the time of Thanksgiving in 2019. This year more than ever, I think cultivating a heart and attitude of thankfulness has been important. So many challenges have come the way of all of us, and yet God has remained firmly seated on His throne throughout. For that, we can be eternally grateful!
My friend so inspired me with her daily gratitude posts last year that I decided to join her in the challenge this year. It has been a wonderful experience of deliberately finding one specific thing to be grateful for each day throughout the month of November. I realise that I am generally grateful most of the time. But intentionally, and every day? Maybe not.
Why don't you try it yourself? Choose to find, and record, that one thing to be thankful for every day for a whole month. They say habits can be formed in as little as 18 days, so by the end of a month, you can be sure you've start to develop a habit of thanksgiving that will last a lifetime. Not just November!