A Day of Thanks, A Life of Thankfulness
Today is Thanksgiving, and even though the capitalistic interpretation of Christmas tries to overshadow this holiday, nothing can change the fact that it is my favorite.Thanksgiving, in its most fundamental incarnation, is exactly what the name suggests; a day of giving thanks. The spirit of this holiday is not about gifts, consumerism, or really anything material (apart from food), but about taking time to recognize what you are thankful for and sharing in thankfulness, with those around you. Sure for some people it is still a consumer driven holiday, as many load carbs for Black Friday, but for the most part, many still keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive. Regardless of who we are, or our lot in life, there is always something one can be thankful for. This is especially true for those who live in Christ. Thankfulness is gratitude for that which we have been given, and not being bothered by that which we haven’t.
It would be incredibly easy to allow thoughts of the things I do not have, to take precedence over the things that I do. Over the course of the week, I have intentionally pursued thankfulness, as I have reflected on all that the Lord has given and taught in my life. He may not always give us what we want, but He will always provide us with what we need. We should thank God, not just for the things we deem easy, but also the hard. God gives us things to be thankful in the good and easy, just as He does the bad an hard. Whatever the situation, there is always something to be thankful for.The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Paul does not tell us to give thanks in some circumstances, He tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. As I sit here on this Thanksgiving morning, with my warm room, comfortable bed, my clothes, and my books, I have already found four things to be thankful for, as not every Thanksgiving morning, has been a nice Thanksgiving mornings, like this one. There have been Thanksgivings where I was homeless, living out of a car, down and out, with no idea what to do in life, and even in those times, I could reasons to be thankful. And it was amazing the ways in which I saw God provide. Everything from pants, to jobs, to places to sleep, even a toothbrush, the list of items, big and small, I can be thankful to God for is never ending. I may have physically had nothing, but spiritually, I had everything. Even with nothing, as a Christian, salvation is everything. You can take everything away from a believer, and they will still have all they ever need.
It would be very easy, to not be thankful today. I could dwell on all the things I do not have, that I am alone without any family to turn to, being single while all my friends are getting married off, or even my finances not being where I would like them, but where would that get me? Sure, my pride makes it seem as if closing off the world, listening to depressing music like Elliot Smith, and wallowing in self pity, would be the fun option, but anybody who has been there, which is most people, can tell you, it really is not. We have everything in the universe to be thankful for. The list continues in my head. I may not have a biological family, but the Lord has provided me with one heck of a spiritual one, with people who do love me. I am living in an economically decent country, that is filled with opportunities, where I am getting an education, studying subjects that I love. Life is not too bad, and those are just a few. On top of that, I am reasonably healthy, have physical mobility, and do not suffer from any serious conditions, or health issues that make my life more difficult. Yes, I have Bi-Polar disorder, but even in dealing with the disorder, God has done more good with it, than my flesh bad because of it. These are all items on the bottom of the list even. As I stated above, I have eternal life! Imagine that, a life eternal, no pain, no tears, no suffering, having a personal relationship with God for all eternity! So mind boggling, yet so true! We as believers have everything to be thankful for, so let’s stop being ungrateful and give thanks.
Thanks should not be something we give once a year, or even once a day, we should live a life of thanks. Instead of complaining about the snow, we should enjoy it, appreciate the beauty it gives, as the snow makes all that is dead and brown, look white and alive! There are times I walk into the dining hall at my school and the meal is not to my liking, so I make fun of it, or curse it, all the while people are starving worldwide, who would love to have even a portion of the food. When I went through stages of homelessness or periods of difficulty, there would be days where I did not eat, you would think I would be thankful. Life could always be worse than what it is, and often it is better than what we think. The same is true for people. It becomes so easy to take people for granted, to not be thankful for them, then they are gone, and the realization of what they meant to you sets in, only you were not thankful when they were there. So many people are gone from my life, dead, moved on, out of contact, that I never got to really show my thankfulness for, when they were here. A life of thankfulness, is more than a day of thanks.
My point is that on this day, and every day, we should be intentional about giving thanks, being mindful of what e have to be thankful for. When you do your devotions, or meditate, make lists of all things God has done in your life, all the ways He has provided, all the stuff you can give Him thanks for. As we develop in “an attitude of gratitude” we will grow in not only our value of people, but also our value of God. Thankfulness reminds us of His faithfulness, and even when we have nothing, we do not need anything, because in Christ, He has given us everything. If we want to be fully thankful for life as a whole, we must first be thankful for the components of life in its parts. Be thankful not just today, but everyday
Truly and genuinely, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.