Parents abusing their children.
College students kidnapped.
Sexual predators targeting pre-teens online.
A politically divided nation.
The headlines land like boulders on the shoulders of our psyche, making it difficult sometimes to be resilient and hopeful, encouraged and upbeat.
Then there are our own personal struggles with finances, and relationships, and health, and work, and being overwhelmed with the busyness and messiness of life in general.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, even during hardship, there are always reasons to be thankful.
I saw a post on Facebook the other day that said: “Leaving your house and returning home safely is an underrated blessing these days.”
It’s true. We forget to be thankful for the little things. This holiday season, let’s remember to be grateful for all the ways we’re blessed.
Being alive and healthy and having family and friends are reasons to be thankful.
Having a significant other in your life who cares about where you are and how you’re doing is cause to be thankful.
Having children and even pets who only know how to love you unconditionally is a great blessing … and a reason to be thankful.
We live in a country where we have the freedom to come and go as we please, to speak out about things we disagree with, and practice our faith (or not) without fear of retribution. Thank goodness for that.
It’s easy to find reasons to complain about our jobs, our workplaces, our pay, our bosses and coworkers, but having a steady job and a reliable income (as meager as it might be) is truly a blessing. Instead of being grumpy, let’s be thankful.
The Bible says we should be content if we have food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8), and we all have so much more. We have homes and cars and cell phones and computers and so many other material possessions.
Let’s all remember to be thankful, if for no other reason, for the small things that we so often take for granted.
I recently started a Bible study with a group of students at Jacksonville State University, and I asked them to let me know what topics they’d like to discuss.
Their response: Suffering.
I immediately understood where they were coming from. They wanted a biblical understanding of how to cope when you’re overwhelmed with problems and when things seem never to break in your favor. We adults tend to remember college fondly but sometimes forget how much of a struggle it can be to fit in, to make good decisions, and to deal with the consequences of making bad decisions … all while racking up debt as you try to be studious enough to earn a degree.
So we talked about Job, a righteous man who feared God, but in one day lost all of his wealth, all of his property, all 10 of his children, and eventually his own health. What Job ultimately learned (the hard way) is that God was in control the whole time.
The key verse to understanding the book of Job is Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.”
It reminds us that, regardless of what life issues we’re facing, someone who loves us is behind the wheel. And that’s a reason to be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Anthony Cook is the executive editor for Consolidated Publishing. email@example.com.