This month Thanksgiving will be celebrated. It’s that time of the year when many Americans set aside a few moments to reflect on the blessings of God. However, somehow, Thanksgiving has lost its spiritual significance in today’s society.
For some, it is another day off, a time for families to come together and feasting. In Luke 17:11-19, 10 men with a horrible disease came to Jesus seeking help, healing and compassion.
Jesus healed all 10 of them, but he was troubled inside when only one thought enough to come back and to say thank you. Likewise, God does not always get a lot of thanks and appreciation from us. Every day is a day of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is another word for gratitude. Gratitude is a natural expression of thanks in response to blessings, protection, or love.
I suppose there are some who believe that there’s nothing to be thankful for. The unemployment rate is climbing and some wonder if they will have a job in the near future. We still have not solved the problem of our national debt and as Americans; we are facing the worse economic disaster in decades. Socials ills like crime, alcoholism, and drug addiction continue to threaten our way of life. We face struggles that are affecting our marriages, health, family and future leaving many to wonder is there anything to be thankful for? In Plymouth, Massachusetts, the first settlers set aside a day of thanksgiving yet when you consider their hardships; you realize how easily they could have become bitter. After all, the pilgrims made seven times more graves than homes in which to live. Nonetheless they set aside a day of thanksgiving. Like those Pilgrims, we must also set aside time in our busy schedules to give thanks to God. The Bible tells us giving thanks should be a daily, continual attitude.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, gratitude is a joyful commitment of one’s personality to God. In the Old Testament, gratitude to God was the only condition in which life could be enjoyed. The Hebrew people thanked Him for the magnificence of the universe (Psalms 19:1-4). When they received good news, they thanked God for His goodness and great deeds (1 Chronicles 16:8-12). When they received bad news, they also gave thanks, trusting that He was a just God (Job 1:21). In the New Testament, the object of thanksgiving is the love of God expressed in the redemptive work of Christ. The Apostle Paul thanked God for that gift of grace (1 Corinthians 1:4). Because the expression of gratitude is tied so closely to the response of faith, Paul encouraged believers to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He commanded Christians to pray with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2) in the name of Jesus Christ, who has made all thanksgiving possible (Ephesians 5:20).
How can God’s people exemplify the true spirit of thanksgiving when factories continue to close and downsizing and furloughs has become more the norm rather than the exception? Well, I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I do think we need to recognize God’s blessing in all of our many manifestations and give thanks to Him even when it seems impossible to do so. We must make an effort to recognize the blessings we have come to take for granted. Begin by focusing on what you have rather than on what you do not have, and see if it doesn’t improve your attitude. Here are a few suggestions made recently by a preacher that I found quite fitting:
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you want.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something, this gives you
the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times, you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you
opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will
build strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, because it means
you’ve made a difference.
Somebody may be reading this article and your life is so full of pain and disappointment you feel you don’t have much to be thankful for. Remember, sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always the best. In fact, they may be downright bad, but still, we are to look for something to be thankful for! In addition, there is always something positive for which we can be thankful!
Let me take this opportunity to convey why I am so thankful. First, I am thankful for Jesus Christ and how He has continually kept me, guided me, and sustained me. I thank Him for my children, who even in their young adult years continue to amaze me and of whom I am extremely proud. I also give thanks to God for the members of Fellowship of Love MBC whom God has given me to shepherd. I am grateful for my pastor and spiritual leader, Rev. Dr. Fred Crouther (who recently celebrated 31 years of ministry at New Covenant), and my New Covenant Church family. I thank God for you, my faithful readers, who are diligent in your pursuit to obtain a copy of the MCJ to read these monthly articles, who continue to never miss an opportunity to somehow get my attention whether it is at a restaurant, the shopping mall or the grocery store encouraging me to continue to provide this column. I also thank God for the MCJ leadership who gave me an opportunity to provide this ministry to you through the print word.
May you and yours enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving and remember to give God thanks in all things!
The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o Fellowship of Love M.B.C. at P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.
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