Are You Still Thankful? (Post-Thanksgiving Reflection)
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1)
So now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, are you still thankful? Now that you have no doubt gained a few extra pounds from feasting on turkey, and your weight loss plan is out the window, are you still thankful? Can you be thankful everyday by making thanksgiving into thanks*living*?
It is hard to be thankful. Mainly because I believe the emotion of thankfulness goes against the natural tendency of the human heart. Furthermore, we are circumstantial people. By nature, our thankfulness is conditional. It is situational. Depending on the circumstances of life, we will be up or down, high or low, happy or sad. We will be thankful if there are reasons to be thankful. It is unnatural or even irrational to be thankful when there is no reason to be thankful. Why be thankful and grateful when things are hard? Why be thankful when you are in pain? Or someone you know is in pain so therefore, you are in pain. Being thankful when there is no reason to be thankful just makes no sense to the human mind. Unless you are a Christian. Unless your mind has been renewed.
Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
The worldly perspective is focused on the here and now. The earthly mindset is focused on the self and what you are going through. So your feelings and emotions are always going to be conditional. It is near impossible for the unbeliever to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says to "... rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Both Romans 12:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 speaks to the will of God. What is God's will for you? To discern what is good and acceptable and perfect. To give thanks in all circumstances. So what is good and acceptable and perfect? To give thanks no matter what. No matter what? Even if you have been hurt by the betrayal of a friend? Even if you have made some unwise choices and you are now paying for your mistakes? Even if the unthinkable is happening to you or to someone you love? The Bible says, "Yes, no matter what. Give thanks always. This is what is good and acceptable to God and this is His will for you."
The reason why a child of God can be thankful in all circumstances is because the Christian realizes that being thankful is not about him or her. Too often, our eyes are on ourselves. It's on our circumstances. Our eyes are focused on what's happening in the world. Instead of looking inward and outward, how about we look upward? Isn't that what we are called to do? To look up to God and beyond the physical? "To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!" (Psalm 123:1)
Psalm 107:1 says to give thanks to the Lord? Why? Because He is good. Because His steadfast love endures forever. His goodness and love is best expressed in the living and dying of the perfect and unblemished Son of God.
We remember that Jesus left the glories of heaven to come down into our broken world. He was tempted in every way and was sinless. So the most innocent man went to the cross to take upon Himself the sins of the world. The most perfect man took the place for imperfect humanity. In this sacrificial act, we see God's goodness and love fully realized. We can be thankful not just on Thanksgiving holiday, but everyday because His love endures forever. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection has lasting value and effect because eternity was impacted for those who believe.
What keeps us from looking upward? What keeps us from being thankful?
Our circumstances? Our pride? Some hurt and pain? Bitterness and resentful?
Whatever is hindering you from being thankful, learn to look up. Look at Jesus who has given us every reason to be thankful every day of our lives and not just on Thanksgiving day. We can live a life of thankfulness because our hearts are overwhelmed by the wondrous work of Jesus. This is God's will for His people. This is what is good and acceptable and perfect.