The Thanksgiving holiday is less than two weeks away. Stores have already rushed on by it to start promoting Christmas. In many ways, Thanksgiving has become the Cinderella of American holidays. It is tucked away in a corner and gets a minimal nod. It is viewed as less important than the more lucrative holidays. Even Halloween gets better billing than Thanksgiving.
Maybe this is as it should be. Thanksgiving is not about making money, it is about rediscovering gratitude. Thanksgiving is a humble holiday that prefers the intimacy of the dining room table to the spotlight of public acclaim. Thanksgiving calls us to something much higher; it calls us to stop running and reflect upon our life. It calls us to be honest about just how blessed we really are. It ultimately calls us to express our thanks to the giver of all good gifts.
We are born into this world selfish, self-centered individuals. We all begin life believing the world revolves around us. We expect to be cared for, waited on and pampered. We have to be taught to be thankful. I can still hear my mother instructing me to say thank you. We have done the same thing with our children. The point I want to make is, being thankful is a conscious choice. It is far easier to complain. It is far more common to focus on what we don’t have instead of being grateful for what we do have.
King David challenges us, in Psalm 103, to remember all that we have to be thankful for. Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—He goes on to expound on all the blessings that God has showered upon us. I could fill the page with blessings that we all take for granted; air to breathe, food to eat, clothes to wear, places to live. Instead, I want to raise the bar a little higher and remind us all about the eternal blessings that can be ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
Salvation through Jesus Christ: Ephes. 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.
Forgiveness of our sins: 1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Renewal of our relationship with God: 1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Strength to face the challenges of each day: 2 Cor. 4:7-9, 16-18
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The companionship of the Holy Spirit: John 14:15-18
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Peace: John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Hope to the future: 1 Peter 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,
Joy: John 15:9-11
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Spiritual gifts: 1 Cor. 12:4-7
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
The Bible: 2 Tim. 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When we stop and reflect upon all that Christ has done for us, we have no reason to complain. We don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to choose to live a life of gratitude.