Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite times of the year. It evokes images such as the pilgrim’s first feast, children playing games, churches singing praises, and families gathered up together to pray. While the first Thanksgiving feast was held in 1621 by the Plymouth colonists, it was over 200 years later in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Since that time, the premise behind the holiday has been pure – acknowledge God for all He has done and give Him great thanks. One of the reasons I love this holiday so much is because traditionally it has not been cheapened by commercialism like the Christmas and Easter seasons.
However, the black cloud known as Black Friday has descended and it hovers over Thanksgiving Day. I remember a few years ago setting the alarm for 3 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving so that I could get the best deals of the year. Then stores opted to open at midnight. You could stay up late and shop til you drop and I was among the thousands last year that did just that. But this year stores are announcing that they will begin their Black Friday sales even earlier. Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Kmart will open their doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Why? So people can go from gobbling up their turkey to gobbling up savings.
We’ve come a long way. Thanksgiving was once a spiritual time of thanking God for His bountiful blessings, but the focus has shifted to the physical and commercial aspects. The thanksgiving attitude of contentment has seemingly been replaced with a discontented attitude of wanting more and more stuff. Instead of spending time with our family, we spend money they don’t have for things we don’t need.
An even sadder annotation is the people who don’t choose to spend their Thanksgiving holiday in the stores. Rather they are the ones who want to be at home with their family, but are forced to work the stores in order to keep a job.
Is it really all about the money, retail sales, and commercialism? Or perhaps there is an unseen force that has always attempted to stomp out gratefulness in the hearts of people who would give the Almighty the thanks He deserves. My prayer this year is that in the midst of all that activities, parades, cooking, football games, traveling, family gatherings, and Black Friday deals that God’s children will stop, slow down, and acknowledge Him with a thankful heart. And my prayer is that it will start with me.
“Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms,” Psalm 95:2.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him,” Colossians 3:17.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” I Thessalonians 5:18.
How can I thank you for blessing me? For sending a Saviour from above?
Thank you God for having a plan, A sacrifice, a cross, a grave.
Thank you Lord for redeeming man, Without Christ who can be saved?
But because He rose victorious, abundant life I now will live.
Grace and love abounds glorious, which daily Lord you freely give.
To give thanks only one day a year, seems contrary to say the least,
For You my God are very near, not just during Thanksgiving feast.
Instead I’ll live a life of thanks-living, all year acknowledging how you bless.
And just one day set aside, for complaints and unthankfulness.
It was Charles Dickens who commented about us being somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience once that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year in November we should have 364 days of thanksgiving. “Use that one day each year just for complaining and griping,” he said. “Use the other 364 days to thank God for the many blessings He has showered upon you.” What an insight!
Many Christians struggle with knowing God’s will for their life. Here is it: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”(1Th 5:18) It is God’s will for us to give thanks in everything. Notice that the Scripture doesn’t say to give thanks “for everything” but instead give thanks in everything. I am not thankful for sickness but I can be thankful in sickness. Why? Because it makes me dependent upon the Great Physician. I am not thankful for trials and troubles but I can be thankful in them. Why? Because they teach patience. I remember our pastor years ago, while teaching through this verse, challenge us to go through the week giving thanks in everything. It was the very next day as I was rushing out the door, late for an appointment, that my son, 2 years old at the time, dropped a gallon of milk on the floor. Recalling this verse I immediately stopped my first reaction. Stooping down to clean up the mess, I smiled at my son and told him that we should thank the Lord for this mess. Why? Because it reminded me to pray a prayer of thanksgiving. You see, I was not thankful for the spilled milk but I did learn to become thankful in the mess. When we live this way daily giving thanks unto our gracious Lord and Saviour our lives become filled with Thanks-living.
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.”