It is Thanksgiving week! For the United States, it is a national holiday. What began with Pilgrim and native Americans in the 1600’s, then progressed to a Presidential Proclamation (Lincoln) to congressional action declaring it a national day of thanksgiving. Today it is mostly a secular holiday. Parades, turkey dinners, football, Christmas shopping, family, pumpkin pie, and napping. Many homes will not even offer a prayer of grace at the beginning of the feast. Whereas family, food, shopping and, football are indeed worthwhile ways to pass the time at a holiday gathering. Yet, the name of the holiday has the word “thanks” in it. If not God to whom do we offer our thanks? Grandma or mom or the caterer for creating a delicious feast? To the NFL for making the players and teams play rather than spending the day with their families? To the shopkeepers of America, who again eat a rushed turkey dinner and leave their families to assist us with the real American pastime ‘shopping.’ What started out with a strong sense of the Divine helping us, has now become a secularized conglomerate of football, food, family and fun. I am not against football, food, family or fun. I am just suggesting we make an attempt to return to the essence of the Thanksgiving holiday, namely remembering we would not be here without the help of God!
Allow me to offer some words of thanks and thanksgiving as we enter into Thanksgiving week:
1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever”.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.
James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”.
Psalm 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name”.
Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever”.
Hebrews 12:28 “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever”.
I could go on and include hundreds of Bible verses that remind the Christian that giving thanks to God is the joyful obligation for the believer. So am I recommending that we become the joyless Thanksgiving police? Absolutely not! The world has seen too much of dreary, sour believers trying to stomp on all fun. Instead, let us remember a few things:
1 Offering thanks reminds us that we are not in charge! No matter how hard you work, or how early your rise or how late you stay at work, we are not self-made. We all have received help, and we all need grace daily. God has helped us, and we need to acknowledge this fact.
2 Offering thanks reminds us how blessed we are and how much we have. Since I just returned from an overseas trip, this fact seems to have been burned in my mind and heart. We have so much! This should overwhelm us with gratitude! How about taking some time on Thanksgiving to thank the One from whom all blessings flow!
3 Offering thanks changes our focus. Because we have so much, we tend to focus on what we don’t have, which is why Black Friday is such a big deal in the developed world. Only where we have so much, can we build a holiday on acquiring more! More of what we want and likely do not need. Taking time to offer thanks take the focus off of covetousness and puts the emphasis on God’s love and kindness and grace. The result may be a focus on those less fortunate and how we might make a difference in their lives.
4 Offering thanks reminds us that even though we may not be thankful for particular circumstances in our lives, there is a God who is worthy of praise and we are grateful for His work in our lives. Giving Thanks to God keeps our hearts sensitive and prevents them from becoming hardened by life. Just another reminder: give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)
Take time as you gather with your family and friends on Thursday, to remember the goodness of God! Regardless of what has transpired this year, pause before the meal and thank God. Have everyone share what they are thankful for and then either quote a Scripture and pray.
Thanksgiving is a beautiful tradition in our country. May we this Thursday pause and remember we are indeed debtors to the God of the universe. From the youngest to the oldest we have much for which to be thankful.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!