Thanksgiving has come around yet again. It’s the season and week we as a culture have set aside to intentionally give thanks and celebrate the blessings we have received. While Thanksgiving can conjure unpleasant memories or expectations of family drama or reinforce the sorrow of losing a loved one, the intent and purpose of this celebration is to give thanks. It’s a time where we can stop our fast-paced lives and take a moment to reflect and be grateful for all that God has given us.
We have had one strange year; 2020 has not gone as anyone expected or dreamed it would. However, as we gather once again around this familiar holiday, there is still much we can be grateful for. In fact, the Bible encourages us and tells us that in the midst of difficult times is when we must count our blessings and bring to mind the faithfulness of God. Having a grateful heart in the middle of the trials and suffering in life is crucial to our spiritual health and continued growth during seasons of hardship.
As Thanksgiving approaches, it may be hard to feel thankful. Our nation has been hit hard with catastrophe, tragedy, and unprecedented violence. From the fires in the west to the hurricanes in the south and flooding in the east and numerous shootings throughout, no region has been spared from calamity. Many people are hurting and broken. Some are destitute without a home, while others have lost loved ones without having the chance to say goodbye.
Our hearts hurt for those who have lost everything, and we’re heavily burdened for those who have no hope. So this Thanksgiving, how can we rejoice and give thanks when our world seems to be falling apart?
Gratitude is a posture. A choice. We often overlook this truth and blindly believe that gratitude and thankfulness is a response to overflowing blessings. But Paul resets our perspective when he wrote to the Thessalonians:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~I Thessalonians 5:18
As we move from the season of gratefulness and Thanksgiving, and into that of gifts, giving, and receiving, we must be careful that we do not slip into a hunger and desire for things, dissatisfaction for what we have and what God has given us, and a need to possess more. I’ve always thought it rather paradoxical that immediately after our celebration and declaration of thanksgiving to God for what He’s done for us and given us, we turn to and start thinking about what we’ve got to have and will not be happy without. So as we transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I believe that the Apostle Paul has a timely message for us.
Turkey Day. That’s what people are calling this day. But what is that even supposed to mean? Does it mean that today is a day to celebrate turkeys? I think not, because the entire meal is served around a golden, roasted turkey. So what’s with the “Turkey Day” expression? What happened to Thanksgiving—a time in which we reflect and remember what God has done?
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”
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