Thanksgiving: A Time of Thanks
Tis the holiday season. You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing the decorations. Soon it will be time for the turkey dinner, a time of thanks and family. Yet in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I thought we should take a moment and consider the meaning behind the word Thanksgiving.
You’ve probably all heard the stories of the Pilgrims, and the very first Thanksgiving with the Indians. I don’t believe that Native Americans today remember that story as fondly as we do, but that’s a whole different issue. The Pilgrims were at the brink of total starvation, and gave great thanks (both to God and their new friends) for providing for them. Nowadays we worry about having too much to eat, rather than too little. So while we should definitely enjoy our turkey dinner on Thursday, I believe we should also spend some time reflecting on what we are thankful for.
That seems to be a hard thing to do in today’s world. I can’t remember the last time I checked out the news and wasn’t overwhelmed with negativity. The headlines are filled with stories about wars, scandals, shootings, and other atrocities. If you were to listen to the media, our world is coming apart at the seams, so what’s to be thankful for?
Yet I have so much to be thankful for. For starters I am thankful that I am alive and healthy. I am also blessed by a loving family, and have many great friends with whom to share life with. I get to live in America, a land of freedom and opportunity. I also don’t have to worry about where my next meal will come from–that is a lot more than most of the people in this world can say. I am most thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who has provided me with everything I have listed above.
Now what I am thankful for and what you are thankful for can be quite different. Yet I believe if we take only a few minutes we can all find a variety of things to be thankful for. I would ask that we dwell on these positive elements of our lives, and try to wash away the negativity that surrounds us on a daily basis. A part of this pessimism stems from ourselves. Like the Israelites in the Bible, we love to complain. It is much easier to focus on the bad than it is the good, which is one explanation for our news headlines. But we are called in the Bible to give thanks, and focus on what God has given us.
I guess my message for this Thanksgiving week is this: stop complaining, start thanking. The next time you feel yourself ready to complain or be negative, stop and remind yourself of all you have been given. The Bible commands us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16, ESV). Meditate on all the Lord has provided you with this holiday season, and give thanks to Him from whom all good gifts flow.