There may be no better food for the soul than gratitude. If gratitude is truly the best food for our soul, how do we “get” it? Truth be told, we humans seem to lack a thankful heart in our natural state. Oh, yes, diligent parents taught us to say “thank you” from the time we were toddlers, “proof in the pudding” we are not naturally grateful.

Granted, in the face of severe problems being thankful is rarely on our radar. But could it be? Is there some “magic” to be worked in those moments? Perhaps a quick look at our national history will provide a clue.

After years of religious persecution, a small band of Christians, along with the ship’s crew and others seeking a new life in the New World, boarded the Mayflower. It was the fall of 1620 (not a good time to set sail according to what we now know of yearly weather patterns).

However, there was one quality the band of believers exhibited that set them apart: gratitude. After sailing through months of violent storms, suffering debilitating seasickness, then encountering a hostile winter environment upon their arrival in the New World, they CHOSE to express their gratitude to Almighty God.

Gratitude. It isn’t a behavior to be changed but a heart attitude which doesn’t come naturally. Though we may see the benefits of being thankful, we incline to ingratitude. Especially when things go terribly wrong in our lives.

243 years after the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation making Thanksgiving a national holiday. He proclaimed, “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.” Though his words imply what sounded like an idyllic time for our country, his proclamation was made in the midst of one of our bloodiest conflicts, the Civil War.

Lincoln ends his proclamation, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (October 3, 1863)

I believe Lincoln was inspired by God to make such a proclamation. Our country was dealing with a crisis which could have destroyed our young republic. Setting aside time to give thanks opened the door to see God’s perspective and invite His intervention in our nation.

The minor prophet Habakkuk gives some light on the subject as his country faced a horrific season of drought, famine, and war. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NKJV)

In reality, there is no “magic” to gratitude at all. It is the result of God supernaturally transforming, not only nations, but our individual hearts as we determine within ourselves to “joy in the God of my salvation” no matter what life may bring – good or evil. Instead of shaking our fist at Him for what we do not have, ask God’s perspective on your situation and deliberately set aside time to express your gratitude. CHOOSE to be thankful. Then the Holy Spirit of God can and will, not magically, but supernaturally fill us with gratitude “to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours, ANN

[Published November 2021 in The Gates County (NC) Index]