top of page

Gratitude: The Ministry of Thanksgiving

The other day when I was on Instagram, I came across a friend’s Instagram story that said the following:

“There’s something I realized last night when I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. What I realized [was] that we all tend to wait for a certain date to say thanks for all the things we have in our lives. Then we post it on social media and kind of compete [to see] who’s more thankful and who isn’t. This should never be the case in any situation. All of us every day should be thankful for the big things and small things we have in our life, such as the amazing people in our lives. Whether it be friends, family, co-worker[s], and etc. The time we have just being alive and being able to wake up [with] a roof over our heads, food, clothes, health, and other things we take for granted. Obviously, no one’s perfect. No one has to be because I’m guilty of this as well. So just take this as a reminder today, don’t be thankful for today but be thankful for every day. For everything that happened in your life. Happy thanksgiving to all of you who have been there for me because I don’t say thank you enough to any of you.”

To be perfectly honest with you, this was eye-opening to me. I agreed wholeheartedly–I also realized that I’m just as much to blame.

But that was a week ago. Fast-forward to today and the thanksgiving cheer has all but faded from my feed. Was this well-intentioned prophet of our times fated to be trapped in the system they sought to undermine? Why can’t thanksgiving seem to break free of a date on the calendar?

I think the answer is that, without the reminder to reflect, being “thankful for everyday” is just plain hard.

Gratefulness is a fundamental part of thanksgiving. You need to know what you are grateful for in order to give thanks for it. However, the mode in which we live our lives is typically not one of gratitude. We take things for granted–things like possessions: our phones, clothes, and daily amenities–when there are people around the world who couldn’t even dream of having such luxury. Believe me, I’m guilty as much as everyone else when it comes to all this. I’m a person who loves switching phones every few months to next big thing. I don’t take it into fact that even having the ability to do this is a massive privilege.

Those dates on the calendar that I mentioned earlier–your Thanksgivings, your Mother’s and Father’s days, your Grandparent’s days, and so on–give us a structured reminder for gratitude. They are rituals that encourage reflection and (quite effectively) get at that grateful core of thanksgiving. In that, we can see their greatest utility

The problem comes with how we use social media. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against social media in general, and I hit up Instagram just as often as the next guy, but just like rituals–just like most good things–we can use social media poorly.

In this case, a lot of us often tend to pose our lives for show–not everyone, but many of us do this; honestly speaking, I do too

So, our gratitude gets co-opted by vanity; we want to outdo each other in our thanksgiving, to the point that we can start to wonder whether we’re genuinely grateful at all, or whether we’re just putting on the show we’re expected to.

Of course, sometimes the gratitude simply isn’t there. Sometimes the negative outweighs the positive, which presents its own problems. What do you post on Father’s Day when your father walked out on you as a kid? How do you respond to Mother’s Day when your mother has been verbally abusive all your life? How do you fit into 240 characters that you want love them anyway? How do you fit into 240 characters that you don’t?

I hope that that’s not the case for you. I hope those around you give you a lot to be thankful for. If not, all I can say is that you’re in good company. In Genesis, we read about Joseph, an Israelite who also didn’t have much to be thankful for. As a young man, his brothers sold him into slavery, and he spent the next several decades either enslaved or in jail. However, after it was all said and done, and God had brought him to a place of prosperity, he forgave his brothers, saying, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Gratitude is a focus on what we have, not what we lack. Oftentimes, we confuse our perspective of the two; we neglect the way in which we’re privileged (you’re probably already familiar with this demonstration) and put too much focus on what we want to get–things that are often not within our control.

God sees both the privilege and the lack, and he acknowledges them, and works in them, saying “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care…So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10).

That leaves it up to us to undertake the ministry of thanksgiving–because really, that’s what it is: a ministry, both to ourselves and others.

Evan Stephens Hall of Pinegrove puts it perfectly in his song “Old Friends:” “I should call my parents when I think of them/ Should tell my friends when I love them.” Let’s make every day Thanksgiving. Let’s make every day Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day, and insert-relative-or-friend-here day.

For my part, I’m just going to give a quick shoutout to my parents, my sibling, my friends, my cousins, my girlfriend, my mentors, my church, and my classmates. I’m so thankful for all of you and I’m grateful for having all of you in my life, because without your outgoing support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. You have all made me the person I am today.

I also want to thank you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this and join us on your journey. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you guys.

So, go out and do it. Call your parents when you think of them. Tell your friends that you love them. Don’t wait to be reminded; live in gratitude, and the reminder won’t be necessary.

Talk to you again soon, and as always, stay grateful.


Recent Posts

See All

Please be advised that this blog post may discuss topics related to suicidal ideation. If you feel that the content may affect your well-being, please proceed with caution. If you or someone you know

bottom of page