What are you thankful for? We gather, every year at this time, to reflect on the blessings of God over the past year. But in most families, Thanksgiving is less about real gratitude and more about stuffing your face, watching football, and hanging with the family. Some actually dread Thanksgiving, because they’re forced to sit in a room with people they really don’t enjoy.
Now I’m all in favor of the food and the football. But this year, let’s make Thanksgiving about giving and about thanks. This year, more than any, might force us to dig deeper. For many, it will mark a year since they’ve had employment .For others, Thanksgiving will bring another reminder that they haven’t found that significant other. And there are those couples who have to face the family questions of why they still can’t have children.
For many, this was a year marked by pain. So how do we summon the gratitude? Well, if you’re a Christian, you’re basis is not your circumstances, but something greater. Paul tells the people of Thessalonica that they could “give thanks in everything.” Why? Because this was the “will of God in Christ.”
In other words, followers of Christ believe that every piece of hardship is a grace gift from the Lord, sent for their growth, sanctification, and further intimacy with the Almighty. We don’t believe we’re here on this earth all alone. We believe God is firmly in charge.
Though life may get hard–and it does–it all falls under God’s sovereign will. And so we give thanks.
As Americans, we really have cause for gratitude. I have to periodically remind myself of this and remind my family. We so easily get caught up in the easy lust for more stuff. Bigger house, nicer car, better clothes, newest gadgets. But then I remember my travels to third world countries, where I’ve seen real poverty–and real gratitude on the part of the Christians there.
Tonight, my kids will go to bed with full stomachs. They’ll have a roof over their heads. They will have two parents in the next room. They will ride in a nice car. They will have a future that includes a good education. All of those are things most kids in the world don’t have. And so, they should be grateful.
Let’s not sit around the table carping about the election, complaining about our job status, whining about injustices from friends. Let’s instead reset our gratitude meters and offer genuine, heartfelt thanks to God. For salvation in Christ. For His daily care. And for friends and family He graciously provides. Oh, and for wives that allow us to stuff our faces and watch football.
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at twitter.com/dandarling, or check out his website: danieldarling.com.