This week kicks off the traditional holiday season. It’s a time we gather together to remember and celebrate the blessings of the year with family and friends, roast the turkey, and bake the pumpkin pie. It’s a festive time. A time to forgive and forget, and cast hopes and dreams into the promise of the new year to come.
But wait! This isn’t a normal year! And in a year of overused descriptive words to try and encapsulate a pandemic, that is most likely the greatest understatement of the year. These past nine months has been far from normal.
Throughout the Bible, some form of the word “thank” is used over 140 times. And generally, the instruction to live a life of thankfulness comes to a people who are facing some form of persecution, hardship, or trial. The apostle Paul would instruct the church in Thessalonica to, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” But Paul, don’t you realize we are almost nine months into a global pandemic? Don’t you realize we’ve just come through one of the most divisive election years in our nation? Do you not see the loss that families have experienced this year? How can we be thankful through all the difficulties this year has presented?
“Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will…”
I have an idea that those apostles, through God’s spirit working in and through them, understood far more about thanksgiving than we know. Most likely, they knew that thankfulness was not an attitude based on favorable circumstances, but a mindset that is developed by persevering through the harsh fires of everyday life. It came about through the knowing and trusting of God’s great presence and provision, even in the darkness of life-threatening persecution and affliction.
True, finding a way to express thankfulness for all this year has brought can be difficult to do. I get it. I really do get it. But let’s not give room for bitterness to take root, which can be so easy to do. Instead, choose to be thankful for what you do have, and what you have been given. We have a choice as to what attitude we allow our minds to create. Your thoughts will determine your attitude, and your attitude will drive your behavior. So, choose thankfulness. Even when you don’t feel like it. By doing so, your holidays, and every day, can be memorable, even joyful.
So what choice will you make? Together, let’s choose thankfulness. We have been given much. Let’s return that in thanksgiving to the God who has promised His never-wavering presence to us, no matter what circumstances we face. Happy Thanksgiving!
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.”