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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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November 22, 2011

A Hand to Hold on Thanksgiving

Learning joy through gratitude

One of the goals I set for myself last Thanksgiving was to be a grateful, joyful woman. Who doesn’t want to be a joyful person? But how do you become that? If joy is the end, what is the means? How do you actually rejoice in the Lord, much less do it always?

Surprisingly, my answer came from a work project. We were working on the November 2010 digital magazine and in the first question of our interview, Sally Clarkson answered my question of how to be joyful. “You can’t have joy unless you’re grateful.” So simple, so clear. Yet it seemed like I’d never heard it before. It always amazes me how God instructs us, how he uses the ordinary to answer our prayers and to direct us onto the right path.

Later that month, I received a Thanksgiving card. The beautiful landscape image on the card caught my eye. However, it was the quote above the image that engaged my heart:

“Let never day nor night unhallow’d pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done.” —William Shakespeare

Here was the practical step I needed to show gratitude. God had taken hold of my right hand and, knowing what I needed to be taught, had used an ordinary occurrence to develop my thinking. So this card went up on the fridge where I saw it every night after dinner. Generally, it wasn’t difficult to remember the good parts of my day. However, there were those days where I couldn’t (and if I’m honest, didn’t want to) turn my thoughts, much less my emotions, toward gratitude and the Giver of all good things.

In the past year, I’ve noticed that it’s particularly hard to be thankful in times of uncertainty. When things are up in the air, it’s difficult to be thankful for the tangible. Most of my energy goes toward fretting about the future, the unknown. Yet those are the times I need to be reminded most of what remains certain, of the fact that I have a trustworthy Father who is with me and helps me, who holds me by my right hand like a little girl crossing the street.

By remembering daily what the Lord has done, I’m slowly becoming a more joyful person. My Father’s hand is strong and sure, and this Thanksgiving I can smile at the days ahead.

Here’s to the challenging work of remembering that God is holding our hands and leading us when times are easy and when they are hard.

Related Tags: gratitude, joy, thankfulness


'fretting about the future...' I need to stop doing that as well.

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