Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Thanksgiving Happens

We're two days away from my favorite American Holiday of the year. I wish it could be exported around the world instead of Halloween. I know it's a uniquely American holiday, a celebration of provision and peace between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, but remembering to be thankful is such a universally great concept beyond stuffed turkey, pumpkin pie, and football, I would recommend that we  use it as a moment to speak wisdom to our souls.

David models this for us in Psalm 103 by reminding his soul to 'forget not God's benefits.' "Bless the Lord oh my soul, and forget not his benefits, He redeems your life from the pit, He heals all your diseases, He crowns you with loving kindness." Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5 that God's will for us all is to be thankful on all occasions. Thanksgiving, the tryptophan-empowered moment, can therefore be a catalyst towards Thanksgiving, the Jesus-empowered  lifestyle.

If this is the case, Thanksgiving happens, not so much when we take the green bean casserole out of the oven, but when we posture our souls to remember God's redemption, healing and loving kindness. So very briefly, whether we celebrate the actual holiday or not, let's look at how thanksgiving can happen as a lifestyle.

1. Thanksgiving happens when we honor the Creator's creation.
The cursory thanksgiving tradition  is to go around the table and say, "I'm thankful for..."which is great, but to say "I am thankful to God for..." is to swim against a cultural tide that glorifies creation but refuses to glorify the Creator. This is to acknowledge God as Father, Creator, Redeemer and Owner of all things, which  is to receive every good gift as a faithful steward rather than an owner.

2.  Thanksgiving happens when we are more mindful of what we have than what we want.
We tend to be forgetful of what we have and mindful of what we want. Godliness with contentment is great gain.The great irony of Thanksgiving is Black Friday. We sit and thanks God for what we have and then rush away from the table  to make a grab for the things we simply cannot live without. If you tend to be discontented, it may be a good thanksgiving discipline to boycott Black Friday, simply for the sake of practicing contentment. I know that's what I'm doing.

3. Thanksgiving happens, not when we are most blessed, but when we are least entitled.
Entitlement is a Thanksgiving killer. If we think we are entitled to God's blessing there really is nothing to be thankful for, is there? The brutality and beauty of the cross is a reminder that we are more wretched than we ever dared imagine, yet more loved than we ever dared hope. This helps us stay humble and thankful, realizing that whatever we have we have received because of God's underserved grace in Jesus, counting every gift as a blessing from Him.

So here's hoping we can use this Thanksgiving moment to kickstart us into thanksgiving momentum.
Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. A beautifully written piece Alan. Thank you.

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