This past weekend was as special time for me and my family. My son and his wife and son (my grandson!) as well as daughter came home for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful day together. But the weekend also included another very special occasion. My wife celebrated her birthday for the 60th time! Consequently, there was another special meal with lots of cake!

Besides the obvious reasons for expressing thanksgiving motivated by a sense of deep gratitude I was reminded of God’s faithfulness through the years. Specifically, my birthday gift to Joy was a slide presentation of her 60 years (550 pictures them to be exact). Starting with a picture of her mother (when she was 18) followed by a picture of her dad as a young man and then their wedding, the slide presentation reviewed Joy’s life from a newborn until a few days ago.

Looking at the pictures made it clear again of God’s gracious blessings on her and our lives. It reminded me of the gift of memory and specific memories. At every stage in life God’s presence was clear, at least when looking back on things.

The Psychology of Gratitude (Robert Emmons) is the premier ‘scientific’ study on the role and benefits of gratitude. Gratitude, the author says as a result of many studies, leads away from criticism, cynicism, despondency, and depression. It leads toward a sense of thanksgiving, fulfillment, appreciation, and the capacity to be present. But the Scripture made this clear many years ago!

My encouragement to you as we begin the Advent season is to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and express it with lots of thanksgiving. We honor God when we do that. And we make things a lot better for ourselves and others as well.

“Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).