It’s that time of year again, here in the United States. Turkeys are bought and stuffed, sweet potatoes are made even sweeter with marshmallows, and homes are decorated with pilgrims, straw, and turkeys (unless you’re like my family–we skip straight to decorating for Christmas).
On Thanksgiving Day family and friends gather together to share a great meal and to reflect on all the things they are supposed to be thankful for.
For many, it involves fun family traditions, like standing in a circle and making everyone say one thing that they are thankful for or having kids write on a giant sheet something they are grateful for.
While having a day set aside for giving thanks is great, Paul takes it a big step farther and tells us that we are supposed to be thankful always, every day! (1 Thess. 5:18, Eph. 5:20) And so, throughout the year we make thanksgiving trees and use gratefulness journals. But why, as a Christian, is this important?
I would like to propose 3 reasons why we are to be thankful
Thanksgiving causes us to go deep
It is easy to list big things in our lives that we appreciate. Family, a home, food, a car, a job, health, etc. But at some point, we will run out of those big items and we have to dig a bit deeper for things that we are thankful for. When we do this we begin to see God’s gracious work in our lives.
We begin to see that he woke us this morning and gives us every breath we take, that he made the sun shine today or brought the rain and wind. We begin to look around and see that we can be thankful for the soap we have to wash our hands with and the broom that cleans up crumbs.
But when we dig even deeper we will go beyond the material into things that are even more important. Like the impromptu kiss we received from our child or the encouraging text we got from our friend.
Deeper still, is the thanks we give for the redemption we have in Jesus Christ: the forgiveness of sins, the righteousness of our Savior, peace with God, and eternal life.
Thanksgiving keeps us from taking things for granted
The deeper we dig the more we realize that every good thing in our lives truly is a gift from God, like the red Tea kennel that sits on my stove and adds a splash of color to my kitchen (James 1: 17). And the more thankful we are the less likely we are to take these gifts for granted.
If you are truly thankful for something you will treat it well. This means that we will treat the people that God places in our lives and those material gifts with respect and gratitude. True thankfulness will cause us to take care of our possessions and to treat them with care. (This is especially important for kids to learn).
A grateful heart will take care with the time that we have been given. When we waste time we not only take it for granted, but we also expect God to give us more. If we are actually thankful for the time that God gives us each day we will use it wisely.
Thankfulness Changes our perspective
Thanksgiving helps us to better see our generous and gracious God. It shows us that while we don’t deserve God’s goodness, he showers us with it anyway. He often lavishes on us more than we need and more than we ask.
But thanksgiving is especially important during hard times. It helps us remember that God has not forgotten us. A thankful heart remembers all that God has done for us in good times and comforts us with the knowledge that He continues to be faithful, generous, and good in hard times. For even if we lose all our possessions he remains with us and for us. The world may forsake us, but God never will.
Thanksgiving is not a holiday, but a holy disposition that stems from our faith in Christ that has received him as God’s greatest gift.
I hope that we all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Day this year, but that our thanksgiving continues every day and leads us closer to our good God.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!