Okay, before I forget to say this (even if you may only see it afterwards), Happy Thanksgiving!
Yep, this is that week -- the week when we as an entire nation stop and consciously give thanks to God for all of the many blessings that we have been given, devoting an entire day to being something of a “bonus Sabbath” so that we can make sure to focus on God.
Oh, that’s what it was originally intended to be in 1621 by the Puritans who founded our country. And that’s what George Washington wanted it to be when he called for one in 1789, and what Abraham Lincoln meant by the day when he called for another one in 1863. You might even argue that that’s what Congress probably intended when they made it a regular, annual celebration back in 1941. But nowadays, it’s basically just a time to eat a really big meal with your family and/or loved ones.
Let’s be honest -- on Thanksgiving, more people are focused on the annual Presidential pardoning of a turkey than they are about the eternal Divine pardoning of our sins. Even those who truly do stop and make giving thanks a part of that family meal only tend to do it for a moment, and then move on to the clearly far more important turkey and stuffing.
Can I make a plea for actually making Thanksgiving about giving thanks (radical a notion as that may be)? Don’t just give thanks for ten seconds (or even two minutes) at the table before you eat, but take the time to specifically thank God as soon as you wake up Thursday morning. Take some time as a family to share what you’re thankful for and maybe even do a Bible study about it before lunch. Make a list of what you’re thankful for -- the really nice stuff as well as the really hard stuff that has helped you grow as a Christian this year -- so that you have something to reference on days other than just the fourth Thursday in November. And spend some genuine time in that larger meal reminding one another of why it’s worth thanking God pretty much every day.
Actually, we talked about that a bit in our message this week. If God is sovereign, then logically, He’s sovereign over everything, every day (otherwise, He’s not really “in charge” -- He’s just in charge of this or that). And if God is always in charge, and He’s always good, then pretty much every day is a day that we should thank God for. Interestingly, that’s exactly what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18. We should be praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances.
It’s easy enough to thank God when things are going well (though, to be honest, it’s also easy enough to forget to thank Him when things are going well), but it’s harder to thank Him when things are really hard. But again, if we can thank Him for being such a good God back when things were great for us, and if He hasn’t changed at all since then...?
Take a moment to stop and thank God right now, right as you’re reading this, before it slips your mind again. But then maybe take a moment to consider some of the suggestions I listed above about how to make Thanksgiving a bit more about giving thanks this year. “For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus...” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)