I want to make the spirit of Thanksgiving last the entire year. But it seems like we Americans gather together, eat the obligatory bird, watch football, and then promptly forget what we have to be thankful for as we rush off to join the Black Friday shopping frenzy. I know I sound like a pessimist, but I could use some encouragement!
Gloomy about Thanksgiving
I love the Thanksgiving holidays and have sweet memories of times spent with my family. This year we gathered with a number of the Crown staff families who are separated from their nuclear families to celebrate together. One family, who are immigrants from Venezuela, celebrated their first American Thanksgiving.
So I hope I can shed some light on your discouragement and give you hope for the days ahead.
It’s a holiday that’s been honored in America since the Pilgrims’ celebration of 1621. Despite their fears, hardships, and mourning, they gave thanks to God for his provision in their bountiful harvest. They honored Him and understood their hope was in Him and Him alone.
Throughout the years, our celebrations have evolved and there have been other proclamations to establish this tradition.
President Abraham Lincoln gave his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863. It was a dark time in our nation’s history. The holiday, he hoped, would bring the nation together in the midst of our Civil War.
I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
But long before the Pilgrims, the people of God were instructed to give thanks. He knew we needed to remember His wondrous works. Why? Because we so easily forget! Throughout Scripture we read of those who erred because they did not remember.
Black Friday Cannot Satisfy
It’s been forecast that average consumer spending this holiday season will increase 4.1% over last year, climbing over $1,000. Multiple economic factors predict retail sales ranging up to nearly $721 billion. But, don’t let the numbers alarm you. This year, many people are hurting. It is an incredible opportunity for the church to shine her light into the darkness of mourning hearts. Shopping will never satisfy that longing.
By observing Thanksgiving, and continuing in thankfulness throughout the year as you suggested, it takes our eyes off ourselves, our problems, the issues of the world around us and onto the Sovereign One who is worthy of our complete trust.
Why Give Thanks
- We appreciate what we have.
- We learn to be content.
- We experience peace.
- We have hope.
- We avoid sin. (Romans 1)
- We are filled with joy. (see many passages like Psalm 100)
- We know God is good and His love endures forever. (one example: Psalm 118)
- It results in generosity. (2 Corinthians 9:10-15)
Some Hope for You
Comparison is a dangerous practice, so it is not good to look around and judge how others may be overlooking the real reason for this wonderful holiday. In spite of how many Americans may be missing the point, as Christians, we can give thanks with joy. We can give thanks with hope. We can give thanks from a heart of gratitude for every kindness the Lord has shown us.
Let us be thankful; winsomely contagious with gratitude by focusing on Christ.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
No matter what situation we find ourselves, there is always, always, ALWAYS something for which to be thankful.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
And, in the praise of our thanksgiving, may we know peace and share it where He leads us.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)
I hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends and you continue giving thanks throughout the days ahead.
Originally published on the Christian Post, Nov 23, 2018.