Thanksgiving is one of Americans’ favorite holidays. Is this because of the fabulous feasts that accompany the celebration? Or is it because we can share it with family and friends? So, there you have food and family, two of three words that start with the letter “F” that describes the holiday. Many of you have probably guessed that football is another word beginning with “F” that rounds out the reason why Thanksgiving Day is one of our most popular holidays.
However, another word that for many don’t readily come to mind in regard to Thanksgiving is the word “faith.” At the very heart of Thanksgiving is being thankful for all that God has given to us, and then expressing gratitude by sharing our appreciation with people we love, and even with strangers. Even people who typically aren’t religious, or don’t consider themselves to be people of faith, still realize deep down that God has been really, really good to them. We are thankful for many things, and ultimately all those things are gifts to us from God.
So, of all you have or possess, which of those things are not directly, or indirectly, gifts from God? Most of us are grateful that we are alive, and it was God who breathed life into us. Most of us are grateful for our health, thankful that we have eyes to see and that we can see the great beauty around us. How bland would eating be without our senses of taste and smell?
And don’t forget to give thanks for your memory. While we may get more forgetful as we age and we have all done things we wish we could forget, we have also experienced many things that we never want to forget.
The human body in general is a bundle of miracles from God, with each body part functioning in cooperation with others to accomplish complex tasks. All of these aspects of our human body are a gift from God who designed us, engineered us and put body systems in place to keep our bodies running well.
So, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. It is not just about intake of food and sights and company. It is giving to others, sharing these blessings with others. But it is not just a word and not just a concept; it is an action to take. One of the first polite things we are taught by our parents is to learn to say, “Thank you.” What a wonderful phrase. Just saying the word seems to make you feel better. When you are having a bad day and someone gives you a compliment, your response is to say, “Thank you.” And doing that changes your mood, changes your focus and injects a little grace and gratitude into your being. How does the atmosphere in the home change when the family is polite and grateful in their speaking and interacting with each other?
Take a sheet of lined paper, and write short statements of “Thank you” to God. See if you can put a new thing you are thankful for on each line of both sides of the sheet of paper. God, thank you for today. God, thank you for eyes to see. God, thank you for a mind to think, etc. Don’t make all your giving thanks be about yourself nor about only physical things. Thank God that he loves you and that he forgives you and gives you gifts to use for him.
In Psalm 118:1 (NLT) we read: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever.” This is a very simple formula for giving thanks. Give thanks, in both words and actions. Give thanks to the Lord. God is the source of all good in your life. Notice the good, and then acknowledge that the God who is good, gave you all that is good. God is good. Many people will tell you that God is bad, that God is to be avoided. But in reality, God is pure good. God loves you and wants the best for you. Thank God that he loves you, protects you, encourages you, comforts you, defends you, etc.
God loves it when we say “Thank you.” Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his devotion to those who love him is eternal, lasting forever. Spread some thanks giving around your activities on Thanksgiving Day. Be appreciative of God, your family, your friends, your guests, your health, sense of taste and bountiful blessings. Happy Thanksgiving.
Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. He can be reached at email@example.com