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All of us have so much to be thankful for! We’re the most blessed people on the planet — yet, I’m not so sure we really believe that. I know I take way too much for granted. It’s easy to go through the day and not say “thanks” to God once!

Studies have shown that productivity rises dramatically when workers are praised and thanked for a doing a good job! I wonder, how does God feel when we take Him for granted? What does God think when we enjoy good health, our family, our homes, our careers, our kids — even our next breath — without making the concerted effort to say, “Thanks, God!”

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Psalm 107 is interesting. In the King James Version, there are four different places that repeat the verse first recorded in verse 8: “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” That same phrase is repeated in verses 15, 21 and 31.

To all teachers, former teachers and parents and grandparents: Why do we repeat the same things to our kids over and over? Because the message is important! We want our kids, our students to get it. I mean really get it, deep down so it’s never forgotten.

Throughout the Bible, God repeats certain truths for the same reason, so we really understand how important those truths are. Not just so we know them, but that we live them. Psalm 107 exhorts us again and again to “give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.”

Why? God wants us to develop, deep in our spirit, a grateful heart. That no matter what we may be facing, we’re to count our blessings one by one — and give thanks! In time, that attitude of gratitude transforms our words of thanksgiving into “thanks-living” being grateful and thankful to God for all that He does for us!

Why is it so hard to be thankful? Why don’t we live with thanksgiving on our lips to God and see our world through grateful eyes that appreciate all that God provides in our lives? There are at least four things we do that make it difficult for us to be thankful:

First, we take God and His many blessings for granted! One of the worst feelings is being taken for granted. Imagine how God must feel each and every day when He pours out unlimited blessings without so much as a whisper of praise and thanks from us.

Second, we compare our lives to others. It’s basic human nature to compare ourselves to others, but we always compare our lives with people who are far better off than ourselves leaving us feeling cheated or not getting our fair share. We never compare our lives to those who, as most of the world does, live in abject poverty. Do that and you’ll be thankful!

Third, we focus on what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we do have. Our culture is a champion in making us feel like we don’t have enough. Especially in this season. Forget Thanksgiving, it’s Black Friday we’re all supposed to be looking forward to. When we focus on what we don’t have, we develop an ungrateful heart and attitude.

Fourth, we confuse our “wants” with our “needs.” Much of our ungratefulness comes from believing that we really need what we want. Do I really need the new 100-inch big screen theater system with surround sound or want it? Do I absolutely need the Corvette convertible, or do I want it? The 15-bedroom mansion with a pool and tennis court, is it a want or a need?

Consider this: God promised that if I trust in Him with all my heart, He will always provide all my needs. One of the names God chose to reveal His character and nature to us in the Old Testament is “Jehovah Jireh” which translates: “I am the Lord your Provider!” And that’s true for every one of us.

Beware of the four “thanksgiving busters.” Stop taking God for granted when things are going well and life is good. Instead, thank God every day! Stop comparing your life to others! Instead, realize God has a special and unique plan for you. Stop focusing on what you don’t have. Instead, thank God for what you do have. And stop confusing your wants and your needs. Trust God and He will provide your every need.

Do those things and you’ll find yourself becoming a very content and thankful person who blesses the people around you, and blesses the heart of God.

The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at pastor@herefordumc.org.

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