It's easy to get lost in all the bad news today -- whether it be unfavorable election results, financial troubles, a struggling economy, an overreaching federal government, crisis in the Middle East or personal struggles. Our growing list of problems often seems overwhelming and endless.
It's easy to give thanks when everything is going our way. But what about the difficult times?
The Bible, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, commands us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
I noticed a poll this week indicating a full 45 percent of Americans would rather skip Christmas because they say it's stressful and a strain on their finances.
But this season is not about braving crowded store aisles, crabby shoppers and maddening traffic jams so we can spend money on stuff our friends and family don't actually need.
Before you rush to empty your pocketbook and cram the hottest toys under the tree, let's examine our hearts this season and count our blessings.
Thankfulness brings joy and contentment; it changes your outlook and attitude.
There's real power in a thankful heart.
Even when we are tapped out financially and emotionally, we should consider the truly meaningful blessings in our lives. My wife, Gena, and I thank God for our families, friends and neighbors, and for the joy of this season that we celebrate in His name.
In all the world's darkness, we can be thankful for God's great love and that He sent his Son so that all of us may have eternal life. That wonderful gift is available to everyone -- regardless of our hardships and individual circumstances.
As President Ronald Reagan declared in his 1981 Thanksgiving proclamation, "Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people."
We thank God we are fortunate enough to have been born in the greatest country on Earth, in a land of abundance, prosperity and hope. We are grateful for our nation's foundation on freedom, justice, democracy and the rule of law. We also pray that America's leaders will look to God for guidance.
We're thankful for the First Amendment, which guarantees our rights to express ourselves, petition our government and worship God freely. (I might add, we're also thankful for our Second Amendment rights.)
We are grateful for all the sacrifices of our nation's veterans and courageous men and women serving in the U.S. military, who continue to secure our liberty and keep our nation safe.
We thank God we live in a land of opportunity, where each of us is free to develop our individual talents and embrace our entrepreneurial spirit.
We're grateful for our good health, our jobs, warm clothing, protective shelter and nourishing food. We're thankful that we're fortunate enough to have these things, so we're able to show compassion and care for those among us who don't.
We thank God for helping us practice humility, patience, kindness and forgiveness.
Most importantly -- especially in these troubling times -- we're thankful that God is always in control.
Let's not get caught up in the material trappings of the holidays and forget to give thanks just because Thanksgiving Day is behind us. This Christmas season, I challenge you to greet every day with a thankful and giving heart.