On November 22, America celebrates Thanksgiving. Most offices and businesses will be closed, schools will be on break, and many families will get together to eat, laugh, and retell stories from the past. All in all, it will be a good day.
But not for everyone.
This Thanksgiving, many families will have nothing to talk about, much less celebrate. Many people will be alone – perhaps for the first time. Many will watch with tear-filled eyes as the mirth and merriment of the Christmas holidays officially begin – for others.
Why, then, dedicate a national day of thanksgiving? In a world filled with suffering and pain, why celebrate at all?
Hope, from the Word of God
On any given day, some people will experience profound joy while others experience profound sorrow. Some will witness new life while others bury a loved one. Some will soar with new-found hope while others carry the weight of ever-present despair. For different individuals in different places, both physically and emotionally, it can be the best of times and the worst of times.
As Christians, we are not exempt from this. However, as Christians, the dynamic is different for us.
We are in this world, but we are not of this world.
God is still on His throne, and He is still in control.
The Word of God wisely counsels us that, in all things, we have a choice. We can pity ourselves, or we can praise. We can whine, or we can worship. We can give excuses, or we can give thanks.
I don’t mean to sound harsh or uncaring, but life on this earth is hard. And life without Jesus Christ is simply unbearable. That is precisely why the Word of God tells us:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17, NKJV; emphasis added)
The same message is given, in shorter form, in Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NKJV)
If, as Christians, we are to be victors, not victims (John 16:33), and if we are to be light and leaven to the world (Matthew 5:14-16, 13:33), then we must not only act differently than the world but also react differently than the world.
While others are choosing to hate, we must love.
While others are sinking into hopelessness, we must have hope.
And while others are giving up, we must give thanks.
Faith, hope, love – Christians are called to do it all and be it all. Yes, we fail and we fall, but God picks us up, dusts us off, and helps us go on.
And in the midst of it all, we must give thanks.
Give thanks for life.
Give thanks for salvation.
Give thanks for a God who rescues us.
Give thanks for a God who loves us.
During this season of thanksgiving, be sure to give thanks to the Lord. Thank Him with your lips, but also thank Him with your life.
Thanks-giving is good, but thanks-living is even better.
And remember: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
-- Dr. John Morris