It’s Thanksgiving week. Time for turkey, football, family and the giving of thanks.  Thanksgiving is usually my favorite holiday, but this year my wife has cancer.  The annual feast of gratitude takes on a new dimension when you are experiencing life with the number two cause of death in America. Even though she is doing well, and the prognosis is for full recovery, it is a sobering time.  I should be depressed and angry.  Certainly, my wife would have a right to be out of the holiday mood, but… that’s not how we feel.

We feel thankful.  How can we feel gratitude with cancer in our lives?

The question is really bigger than that.  How can you feel gratitude when your life is in a serious downturn?

  • Can you be grateful when someone you love has recently died?
  • Can you be thankful when your child is in prison?
  • Can you be grateful when your family has been shattered by divorce?
  • Can you be thankful when your business is sinking financially?

The answer is yes, and here’s two reasons why:

First of all, if you will access gratitude you will be happier. Why?

  • You will enjoy better relationships with your friends and family.
  • You will enjoy greater success in your work.

Gratitude can not only increase your enjoyment of life, but it will actually make your life more successful.  I just read a wonderful book on developing charisma for personal    success and I was surprised to learn it had a section on developing gratitude.  Here’s a     quote from the book:

“Everyone seems to be preaching gratitude these days. Oprah champions an “attitude of gratitude,” and studies have come out showing that gratitude helps you live longer, healthier, and even happier. The science is compelling, as are the ways in which gratitude can boost your charisma.  If you can access gratitude, an instant change will sweep through your body language from head to toe; your face will soften, your whole body will relax.  Your body language will emanate both warmth and a particular grounded confidence that people will find very appealing.”     Olivia Fox Cabane  “The Charisma Myth”

  • You will enjoy more of the life you have left.

Our pain can narrow our vision.  We can fail to see the good that still abounds in our lives when we are dealing with a   disappointment or pain. The Bible commands us to be thankful in all circumstances, because in almost all situations there remain reasons to rejoice.

Secondly,  the choice of gratitude will protect you from bitterness.I have a friend who lost a beautiful sixteen-year-old daughter in a car accident.  She told me that after a season of nearly unbearable grief and spiritual confusion, she made a decision to give her questions to God and move on.  She said her motivation was selfish.  “I did not want to be a bitter, old woman.”

I choose to be grateful this thanksgiving in spite of my wife having cancer because I want to be happy and I refuse to be bitter.  I hope you will choose gratitude as well this holiday season even if you’re going through a difficult time. So pass the cranberry and the candied yams.   Turn up the volume on the TV and let’s root for the Cowboys.  Oh, and if you ask me to pray, get ready for little bit longer prayer than usual, because I want to thank God for all Barbara and I still have in spite of her cancer.