Two Ways Giving Thanks Makes Us Strong

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Let’s face it. Life often feels like a battle — and one in which men feel they are barely holding the line or just losing.

Enter Thanksgiving. This is the time we gather as families, enjoy a feast, and watch some football on TV. It is also a day when we are encouraged to give thanks. But the holiday soon fades into the shadows of our memories when the turkey and dressing are gone. It’s back to the familiar struggles at hand. But what if giving thanks is also a cunning battle strategy? What if it is a way to approach life that can win the day? Here are two reasons why I think it is.

First, the very act of giving thanks can move a man from anxiety to peace, from discouragement to hope. It is a radical perspective shift in which our focus moves from all that is wrong with our lives to all that is good and true and beautiful. The struggles of life act like incessant clangs and bongs. Their harsh noise garners our attention so that we fixate on them. But the blessings of life speak to us in gentle whispers. They can be easily ignored unless we stop and choose to listen.

But if we do stop, our perspective shifts. We realize that we are unknowing receivers of a bounty we do not ask for nor deserve. This is why the literal act of taking time to count one’s blessings is so liberating. It is this newfound realization that puts muscle into our souls. We still see the battles, but they do not seem ultimate. Nor do they seem unconquerable.

Second, there is something else going on underneath this perspective shift that is just as invigorating. It’s a gravitational shift. We tend to sink our souls down into the unspoken belief that we have to figure everything out, that it’s up to us to make life work out. But that default mode is our undoing. It’s behind all our striving and masking, behind all our shame and fear. It strips our souls of the deep strength we know we need as men.

But in giving thanks, we acknowledge there is Someone to whom we give thanks. We cast our souls along a different axis of gravity, one in which we are sons, not orphans. There is in fact a Father who is behind all that is good and true and beautiful, a Father who whispers His love to us in all of those unrelenting blessings. We are not alone, and we never were. To sink our souls into this love is to nourish and fortify them. We are then ready to take on the battles because we know we have One who fights for us and with us.

This Thanksgiving season, enjoy the turkey. Watch the football. But take time to give thanks as well.

And let that thanksgiving make you strong.