When Ryan came home from school one day, he told me his assignment was to look me in the eye and tell me why he was thankful for me. It was the week before Thanksgiving.

With twinkling eyes, he looked at me and exclaimed, “Thank you for all the hugs and kisses!” He gave me a tight hug.

Surprised by my son’s show of affection, I felt warm and fuzzy inside. And I wanted more. “Is that all you’re thankful for? What about the time I took you to the doctor when you were sick, or when we went to the zoo, or when I cooked your favorite meal–green Mac n’ Cheese?”

“Of course, Mom,” Ryan replied, releasing me from his tight squeeze, “I’m thankful for all that you do. I’m thankful for you.”

During Thanksgiving each year, we make a deliberate attempt to count our blessings. As Christians, we direct our gratitude to God, the source of all kindness and grace. This year, as I was giving thanks for all the good things God had given me, I wondered if I was more thankful for the gifts than the Giver of gifts.

God has provided for all my basic needs—food, clothes, and shelter. Beyond that, He has blessed me with a treasure of good things, including good health and a loving family.

And, all I have belongs to God. Nothing I have is mine. I’m only a steward of the gifts He has given me.

How would I react if I lost something precious or someone important was taken away from me? Will there be any difference in the way I show gratitude to God?

I must admit that some of the things God has given me have become so important to me that the thought of losing them gives me a mild panic attack. I’m not talking just about material possessions.

Our roles as parents, Bible study leaders, or Sunday school volunteers make us feel important. We pride ourselves on our good looks, stellar educational credentials, and important workplace titles. Some of us also value our social status or family heritage. We can also become proud of the size of our bank accounts and mutual funds.

Do we love these prized blessings more than God?

When Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV),” he urged us to cultivate a heart of gratitude that transcended circumstances and emotions.

We can thank God in seasons of plenty as well as poverty simply because we trust in His goodness and acknowledge His sovereignty.

We are alive, saved, and eternally secure because of Jesus’ work on the Cross and God’s love for us. Nothing can take that away from us.

God’s power and strength are available to us, at all times, whether we are healthy or sick. God’s grace and peace are accessible to us even when we find ourselves at the bottom of a sinful pit. God’s friendship is within reach, when we are surrounded by a loving family, or when we find ourselves alone and friendless.

Even after death, His love continues. What more could we ask for?

As I pondered on my blessings, I was compelled to look within and see if I loved God with my whole heart, if He was the love of my life.

Just like my son who was thankful for me, his mom, I want to look God in the eye and tell Him I’m thankful that He’s in my heart and in my life, not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day. Regardless of my circumstances.

I want to be able to love God for who He is and not just for what He gives me. No doubt, I’m grateful for His generosity. But if, for some reason, I find myself in a dry or difficult season, I hope my heart continues to overflow with thanks and my lips never cease to sing God’s praises.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

-Psalm 100 NIV.

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