Let me begin with this one from H.U. Westermayer who, when reminding us about our holiday of Thanksgiving said: "The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
This suggests to me that thanksgiving is something that sometimes comes from a deliberate action on our part. That colonization of the new world was not an easy thing. Death was a constant reminder of the difficult task that this group of men and women undertook. Yet, somewhere in the midst of the pain and the dying, they found it within their hearts to give thanksgiving. It reminds me of the scripture found in Job 1:21: "...the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
I don't think that most of us have that same view of thankfulness. If we are polite we say, "Thank you." but when life confronts us with difficulties and trials it is not likely that the first words out of our mouth are words of thanks. As a pastor, I am often called upon to pray with families that have just lost loved ones. I typically begin with the words, "Most gracious and holy God..." I sometimes wonder, "Do the people I am praying with right now see any grace in this moment of loss?"
I think that thankfulness is one of those virtues that we must sincerely strive to achieve. As I encourage you to develop thankfulness in your own life, I close with this quote from Arthur John (A.J.) Gossip who said, "Thanksgiving is the language of heaven, and we had better start to learn it if we are not to be mere dumb aliens there."
So look for ways to practice thankfulness--even when you feel least like doing it.