As I look back on each Thanksgiving of the 11 years that I have been writing this blog, all the posts have several things in common: gratitude for all the ways God has blessed me; for the establishment of this nation founded on trusting God; along with praying He will deliver us from the transgressions we have committed against Him. And in the midst of it all, it is an opportunity to take the time to praise Him for His faithfulness, even when we fall short of glorifying Him.
And in speaking of gratitude, I have a feeling that, like me, you are viewing this Thanksgiving season with a bit more reflection, and giving pause to think about all the things you have to be thankful for. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." It is easy to give thanks to those things that come easily -- our family, friends, our health, our job, God's provision. But notice that Paul said everything!
So, we're supposed to give thanks for the minor stuff like our aches and
pains, the difficult people in our lives, the mounting bills on our
desk? And, Paul couldn't possibly mean that we're supposed to give
thanks for the sinful world we see all around us -- the immoral culture;
the apostate Church; the diseases and plagues that have afflicted so many families; the escalating evil that we've seen in the wars and rumor of wars around the world; and the increasing violence and rage that seems to be seeping into the spirit of this nation. Is all that the everything Paul is speaking about?
But instead of focusing on all the pain and sadness and anxiety that all those things -- both great and small -- bring to our mind and hearts, wouldn't it be nice this Thanksgiving to actually put into practice the words of Psalm 95? To come before His presence with shouts of joy and songs, in full spiritual recognition that no matter what is going on in our lives or in the world, He is a great God and a great King above all gods?
Have you ever thought about thanking Him for all the times He said, "No", and for unanswered prayer because it not only made you depend on Him more, but humbled you to admit that He knew what was best for you? What about thanking Him for the things He withheld from you, and for protecting you from things you may never realize ... and the closed doors that may have frustrated you, when, in fact He mercifully kept you from going places He did not want you to go.
You see, we tend to limit the idea of Thanksgiving to this one special day that has become a uniquely American holiday centered on family gatherings, food, and football. But surely there's a deeper message in the Thanksgiving story than Squanto, corn and succotash, and the fall harvest. Turns out there might be... Thanksgiving became associated through the centuries with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Throughout the Bible we find times of thanksgiving in which God's people come together and thanks has been offered through the gift of fellowship between all. And I find it quite significant that 233 years ago, our first President, George Washington, proclaimed a national day of thanks to the Lord for His care in guiding us to become a nation. Washington's Proclamation stated that on this day, the people of the newly established United States of America should be devoted to "the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be ...".
As we gather around the Thanksgiving table this year, can we remember those inspiring words? Can we see it as more than just family, friends, and food? Will we take advantage of this one day out of the year that is designed to give thanks and dedicate it to our great God -- to the LORD who has given us an inheritance in the heavenly places, which is something greater than all the possessions of this world? Can we thank God for the greatest gift He could ever give us: forgiveness through His perfect Son's death on the cross on our behalf?
This Thanksgiving, it needs to be all about HIM! We need to
thank God for our eternal salvation, and for the salvation He gives us
every day of our lives as He saves us from ourselves and our
foolishness. We need to thank Him for allowing us to be born in a nation that was founded on personal freedom, and fervently pray that He will guard and protect us against the enemies of freedom. We need to thank Him for His power and strength that are
ours to call upon in our moments of human weakness -- and the ways we have failed Him are quite evident in these days.
So, as we get ready to partake in our national holiday of giving thanks, let us join together in declaring this prayer: Our Father, who reigns from Your Heavenly throne, look down upon us this day and forgive us for failing to thank You in all the ways You have blessed us. We give praise and honor and glory to You for the countless ways You have been faithful to us and this nation. On this Thanksgiving holiday, we acknowledge that all that we are is a credit to Your patience and enduring love. We appreciate the bountiful provision you have given us, and we pray that both our individual lives and this nation will stand on the solid ground of Your Holiness and Righteousness. On this day, we come before Your Presence with hearts full of praise and worship. We thank You, and we lift up Your Holy Name in humble adoration. We bless You, Father, in all Your majestic ways. Amen!
#thanksgiving #gratitude #thankfulness #thanksgivingday
Isaiah 12:4 And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name [in prayer]. Make His deeds known among the peoples [of the earth]; Proclaim [to them] that His name is exalted!”