Thanksgiving is much more than a day. It is an attitude. I love the fact that our country has a day when we pause and give thanks. For many of us, it’s a day when we give thanks to God for the many provisions He has made for us and the blessings He has poured out upon us. Whether those provisions and blessings are exemplified in our country or our family or our health or our church, ultimately it is an all-encompassing connection with our God. Maybe it was that kind of thought that the Apostle Paul was being led by the Spirit of God to look at when he said, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
Like most special days and holidays, Thanksgiving generally comes and goes so quickly. We move on to whatever is next, but before I turn loose of Thanksgiving and move into Christmas mode, I’d like to share with you some reflections about Thanksgiving, a day that continues to live in all of our lives.
One reflection is this: Thanksgiving has to do with food. I am so thankful that my family had far too much to eat, rather than having to worry about whether they would have a meal at all. In fact, a large percentage of us, not only the Futral family but in our Mississippi and America families, rather than worrying about whether we will have another meal we are worried about eating too much at every one of our meals. We live in a land of plenty to the point that we cannot help but pause at Thanksgiving and thank God for answering our prayers.
When we pray that part of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread…” (Matt. 6:11), we could insert another phrase: “…and help us not to feel obligated to eat everything in sight.” I’m confident that many of you were thoughtful enough at Thanksgiving to share with those with whom you may have come in contact (or actively sought out) who didn’t have enough. Also, we do not need to forget them on the days of the year other than Thanksgiving.
Historically, these days we call holidays are filled with so much overeating that the general population will gain a few pounds and overindulge to the extent that we will be less healthy when the holidays are over. Stop today and give thanks to God if you and your family were able to enjoy way too much food on Thanksgiving, rather than having to deal with the uncertainty of your food supply every day of the year.
A second thought that came to my heart had to do with fighting. How thankful I am that most of my family were worried about which team would win or lose a football game and were not at all fearful of whether or not our country would win or lose a war. I have lived through war-torn times in our country – the Korean War and Vietnam and other hot spots that might have just erupted and we wondered what would become of those involved in deadly conflict.
I know there are enemies that would love to destroy us even now, and I do know that there are those who live in anxiety and fear that some terrorist will randomly select a place and time that will injure or destroy them. We have been wonderfully wrapped in peace and security so often for so many days and years that Thanksgiving affords us a glorious opportunity to pause and thank God for the peace we have enjoyed. Life is always filled with uncertainties and while that is true for every one of us, the believer can listen to Jesus’ words that will give us peace in the midst of the turmoil.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). Jesus is telling us that He will be with us in every day in every way, that he will walk with us when the storm clouds are approaching and still be there with us when the sun bursts forth on a new day. Trust Him and give thanks for His presence in your life.
That brings me to the third item. I am daily and eternally thankful that we have a living, vibrant faith. It is a faith centered on Jesus Christ, our ever-living Savior. It is not a life anchored just in circumstances. It may shift like the wind, but it is a hope that is anchored in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and will be the same all future days (Heb. 13:8). At some point, every one of us will deal with disruptions in our lives. The shift of landscape and circumstances crash in on all of us, and the spin-up of some tornadic wind will either come your way or close by.
In the midst of whatever may be taking place, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). He comes at Thanksgiving, and He comes the day after and the day after the day after, and He will be with you today. I know that as you read this, we are several days past Thanksgiving Day in our country but pause long enough today to consider giving thanks again for food, peace, and your faith that could be triumphant, heartwarming, and life-changing even this day.
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