Giving thanks for our many blessings makes for a terrific holiday. Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.
The Pilgrims endured much adversity their first year in the new world and wanted to thank God for their harvest and survival. Sadly, many Americans no longer believe in God. They don’t offer up songs of thanks to their Creator. Instead, they celebrate Thanksgiving with a generic sense of gratitude. Nothing more. God is worthy of our thanks and praise but they miss this truth.
Even on our most difficult days, it is a good practice to daily thank God. If we’re in a pit of despair or depression, offering up a word of thanks will help lift us out of our trench of darkness. There is always something to thank God for and a heart of thankfulness will lead to a life of contentment and peace. We were bought and saved by the blood of Jesus. This knowledge alone deserves our gratitude
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)
You may ask, How can I be grateful when my spouse or child has died? Dear reader, such loneliness and sorrow is certainly a difficult cross to bear! But if we will ourselves to step outside of our discomfort and consider the new heavenly joy our loved one has found… we can give thanks. Another person may ask, How do I give thanks when I’ve lost my job or I’m heading toward financial ruin? Again, such trials are not easy to endure but God has a plan and a blessing for you even in these circumstances. Doors close so that new ones can open. A new job or ministry will eventually find you. Financial ruin is not impossible to overcome. With God’s help, you can rise above it with the added benefit of gaining more wisdom and knowledge. To find blessing during painful trials will require introspection and effort. It is worth the effort because thankfulness repels roots of bitterness.
The lyrics to a recent song on Christian radio reminded me that we are to have EYES ON YOU LORD, EYES ON YOU. Hearts overflow with gratitude when we keep our focus on Jesus. When we fall into snares of self-pity, we give the enemy a foothold. The impulse to put SELF first into any situation jeopardizes the fruitfulness of edifying others and glorifying God. Do you recall what happened in the Garden of Eden? (Genesis 3)
Many families participate in the tradition of naming something they are thankful for before digging into the Thanksgiving feast. Why not try something different this year? How about writing down something you gave which brought glory to God and edified others. Don’t write down your name! Then have the people at your table draw a card and read it aloud. (This person helped a sick neighbor with household chores.) The object isn’t to guess who wrote the card. Instead, the objective is to ponder how the action made a difference. Hopefully, the act of kindness will inspire dinner guests to seek out new ways to give with a thankful heart in the New Year.
“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NKJV