As we enter the Advent season, we should remember the Thanksgiving holiday sets up Advent & Christmas. One way we can refocus our family’s Christmas season is to use gratitude activities as we look at the past. Our family’s past and history’s past. When we see how God has blessed us and others, we can show gratitude.
Let’s face it, Christmas is stressful for moms. Why not put things into perspective and look at how God has blessed you and others?
My thankful list takes my eyes off the tribulations & stressful situations of Christmas. Let’s look into history and see how a thankful spirit helped overcome stressful situations.
Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran pastor during the Thirty Years War. During the height of the war in 1637, Rinkart performed 50 funerals a day and as many as 4000 that year, including his wife’s funeral.
Not much on the outside to be thankful, if you ask me.
However, it was at this time that Rinkart wrote the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God” with the following words. I know it’s a bit lengthy, but take a minute to read this – It’s well worth your time!
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
How can a man pen those words?
- in the midst of overcrowding
- surrounded by deadly pestilence
- with famine everywhere
- performing 50 funerals a day
Rinkart had the right perspective on life. His focus was wholly on God Almighty. He wasn’t looking at the tribulation here on earth, but on the eternal reward and love of His Savior.
Christmas is often a trying season for many.
- You may be stressing over your job and making ends meet each month.
- You may be agonizing over finding a little extra money to buy a special gift for your kids.
- You may be grieving over your marriage.
- You may be burdened over your kids’ walk with the Lord.
- You may be worrying over “keeping up” with the other homeschoolers in your area.
So many areas of your life can take your focus away from Advent and your preparation for celebrating Christ’s birth.
Gratitude Activities for Kids
My suggestion to you is to change your family’s (& your kids) perspective to being thankful. Philippians 4, reminds us that thanksgiving is prefaced by rejoicing always.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Here’s God’s order to peace. Peace in our families. Peace during the holidays.
- Pray instead of worry
- Give thanks
- Peace from God
That may seem like oversimplification, but I think it hits the nail on the head. When you rejoice in the Lord, you choose to change your perspective from worry to joy. The natural result is thanksgiving. As you give thanks each & every day of Advent, your perspective will shift from stress to peace.
What gratitude activities can you do with your kids?
- Continue your things to be grateful for list
Keep your own family history list of thanks
- Memorize Philippians 4:5-7 as a family
- Use “Now Thank We All God” as copywork
- Find other men in history who showed gratitude in the midst of suffering.
Trials & Thanksgiving
In closing, I don’t want you to think I am belittling worries or tribulations, especially during what can be an extremely stressful time: Christmas. Two years ago the holidays were extremely difficult for me. Besides personal issues, my 24 year old niece died. I felt like I had little for which to say THANKS. But, Christ says
in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33)
Christ recognizes the fact that you & I are going through trials, even at Christmas time. However, we can rejoice in our trials because Jesus Christ has overcome each & every one of those trials…He has overcome the world. He is always the victor!
If Martin Rinkart can give thanks to God, in the midst of performing 50 funerals a day, surely you & I can give thanks in the midst of our trials. Thanksgiving will truly change your perspective during Advent and prepare your heart for the grand celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth in a few weeks.