Since it’s that time of the year again, it’s time to talk about being thankful. Thankfulness is a deceptively simple concept. It’s one of those things like forgiveness, where the idea  is easy to understand, but living it out is much more challenging.

In church yesterday, we watched a video about thankfulness. I sometimes tune out these kinds of videos, but this one caught my attention.  In it, a man was lamenting to God that he just didn’t know what he had to be thankful for. As the man went through his next day, words appeared on the screen listing things he had to be thankful for, things as simple as having running water, the ability to see, reliable transportation, and friends.  The twist at the end, however, was that he didn’t recognize any of those blessings. He was right back where he was at the beginning, saying “God, I’m really struggling. Show me what I have to be thankful for.”

And aren’t we right there with him most of the time? I am at least. It’s all too easy to recognize the things that we lack, whether in abilities, relationships, or possessions, without stopping to appreciate the good things that already exist in our lives. The small blessings get overshadowed by everything that we believe is not right in our lives.

Now of course, not everyone has the same exact things to be thankful for. We each have our own unique blessings as well as our own unique challenges. But whatever the challenges in your life may be, there are still blessings. It can be hard to see them at first. Sometimes we need to reset our expectations of what we think our lives should look like. Sometimes we need to pause and notice the things that we haven’t been noticing.  We can still acknowledge that things aren’t exactly what we want or that we aren’t where we‘d like to be, but we also need to recognize that, in spite of our challenges, we do have many things to be thankful for.