This Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?
By Mike Joens
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions Thanksgiving Day? Perhaps you will think that it’s a day of family get-togethers over a bountiful meal; getting off a day or two at work may come to mind. Or you might think of traveling to visit family and friends. Perhaps you’re history-minded, so you think back to the time when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for His plentiful harvest in the New World. There are many who regard Thanksgiving as the beginning of the Christmas season. Others think of it as a day of endless football, of raking leaves, or regard it purely from a consumer perspective––the Black Friday kick-off that doesn’t end until the day after Christmas.
Whatever comes to your mind first, I think most of us will agree that we are a people with much to be thankful for. Most will agree that it is God who has blessed us. Granted, this mindset has eroded over the past decades; even so, we are still a free people that can worship without fear, speak without fear, go to bed without fear. We remain a nation of incredible wealth––the most giving nation in the world in times of national and global crises.
Are we a thankful people? I hope so.
The Bible says that we are to “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good” (Ps 136:1). We are to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Ps 100:4). Paul says “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9:15). The scriptural references are too many to list here. Suffice it to say that “in everything we are to give thanks.” Put simply, we are to be a thankful people.
Because God is our Creator, He is our sustainer, provider, savior; He is our Lord, King, the lover of our souls, and so much much more. For as James says, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). He is a good and kind and loving Heavenly Father.
Every breath we take is a gift from God for which we should be thankful! When we are thankful, our eyes are fixed heavenward and the weighty burdens of our hearts are given wings.
Though Thanksgiving Day began as a religious celebration in the early Puritan days, it became celebrated by the nation as an annual tradition during Abraham Lincoln’s term in office, regardless of one’s religious inclination. President Roosevelt signed Thanksgiving Day into law as a federal holiday in late December, 1941, the holiday to occur on the fourth Thursday of November.
Was this good or bad?
I think good. Thanksgiving Day gives believers the opportunity to give thanks openly to God when they gather with their families, whether or not everyone at the table knows Jesus as their Savior. What an opportunity as well to share our faith!
I think it’s a good practice to have everyone sitting at the table, young and old, share one thing that they are thankful for. Perhaps you are thankful for our servicemen and women, past and present, or for a new job, or for an answered prayer. Personally, I am thankful that the Lord Jesus saved me out of darkness when I was a young Marine stationed in Naples, Italy, 1972. O the blessings that have flowed into my life since then!
Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for?