By Bruce Green
Thanksgiving is a unique holiday. For starters, it is an American holiday as opposed to one celebrated internationally (like New Year’s Day, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc.) Although it has some roots in England in the practice of the Puritans, it was in America that it blossomed. It has quite a bit to do with the early history of our country – from the Pilgrims’ early observation of it as something of a harvest festival to President Washington declaring the first nation-wide observance in 1789. Thanksgiving is about as American as it gets.
Because it is so tied in with the origin of our country, Thanksgiving isn’t generally regarded as a religious holiday but rather a national one (much like Independence Day). All Americans, whether they believe in a higher power or not, celebrate our nation’s heritage and the prosperity they enjoy as citizens of this country. I think there is something wonderful about that. All of us, no matter what our circumstances, can find things to be thankful for.
When you choose to adopt a mindset of looking for things to be thankful for, it is absolutely life altering. It’s much harder to complain when you are focused on being grateful. It’s more difficult to get and stay angry it you are thinking about all there is to be thankful for. Generally speaking, you really have to work at being negative if you are filled with gratitude.
Paul tells the disciples at Thessalonica to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). There are a lot of important truths packed into these few words. You’ll notice that the words “always,” “continually,” and “all circumstances,” point not to isolated actions but a lifestyle of rejoicing in, praying to, and the thanking of, our Father. The first two are easy to digest, but the idea of giving thanks in all circumstances or as Paul will say in Ephesians 5:20, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,” is a little more difficult to swallow. Scan the headlines and you’ll find all sorts of awful things that happen and tragic circumstances that come upon people. We’re to give thanks for those?
That’s not what Paul is saying. He’s not telling us that everything is good; but he is telling us that everything is under the dominion of our Father and “in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” (Romans 8:28). We aren’t exempted from the difficulties of life, but we are promised that God will help us through them—and that is worth celebrating! It also means there is no excuse for living without deep and profound gratitude every day of our life.
If we think, we’ll thank.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
You can find more of Bruce’s writings at his website: atasteofgracewithbrucegreen.com.